Is the time right? In the past, certain events connected to racial injustice have caused moral outrage. For a brief moment, people voiced the need for change; then, it was back to business as usual. However, the events that occurred in 2020 prompted many people to examine their outlook. Businesses reevaluated their policies and made a commitment to racial equality. History was challenged, and perspectives and biases were examined. This inspired many people to speak up and voice their views. In a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the concern for social injustice in America took hold.

In addition to speaking out, people and businesses took action. They provided monetary support and collaborated with organizations committed to change. A heightened dialogue started between friends, families, co-workers, neighbors and strangers that asked urgent questions like, how can Diversity & Inclusion (“D&I”) be achieved?, why is it significant in the healthcare industry? and why is it important to join in our actions?

In June 2020, PNC made a $1 billion commitment to end systemic racism and to empower African Americans and people living in low- to moderate-income communities. "We are living in one of the most important civil rights movements of our time,” said PNC Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer William S. Demchak. “Each of us has a role to play in combatting racism and discrimination, and PNC is committed to driving real change in areas in which we can make the greatest impact." As part of this effort, PNC established the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer and made plans to create a more diverse workforce. PNC also deepened its commitment to community development by providing financing and capital for neighborhood revitalization, consumers and small businesses. Additionally, PNC contributed $50 million to national and local efforts aimed at eliminating systemic racism and promoting social justice.

In this article, we share our clients’ perspectives on the events of 2020. They reveal what inspired them and how their organizations plan to make a meaningful impact on their patients and communities. They also discuss how diversity and inclusion contributes to the greater good of our communities, our commercial success and — most importantly — the mental, emotional and physical health of our society.

Diversity starts with the recruiting process — actively hiring a diverse team, reviewing the current composition of your staff, and not being afraid to make adjustments. “Making it a core need to me is a mindset,” says a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors in Colorado. Indeed, inclusion is the next step and an essential part of unlocking the full benefits of a diverse workplace.

An Inclusive culture among the staff at a hospital, clinic, or dental office extends to patients before, during and after treatment. The ability to create a genuinely safe environment for patients contributes to a faster recovery. When selecting a healthcare provider, a critical part of many patients’ decisions is recognizing the diverse mix of genders, ethnicities, races, religions and lifestyles among the staff.

At Smile Brands, Inc., D&I is part of the strategy. The staff reflects the community of the dental office and therefore attracts a broader group of patients.
—Tanisha Wicker, SVP HR at Smile Brands

A diverse and inclusive approach can help patients feel comfortable receiving care that extends beyond medical service. It creates trust when the physician looks like the patient, the young woman is able to consult with a female gynecologist and the veteran finds a caregiver who is empathic to trauma.

Building trust accelerates recovery, which ultimately helps to reduce costs in the healthcare eco- cycle. Steve Bilt has been honored with multiple awards for Smile Brands’ D&I culture. “The events in 2020 have not changed the importance [of D&I],” Tanisha Wicker said during our interview. “They elevated our re-commitment to people who were generally marginalized. D&I requires change from the inside. It has constantly been reinforced from the top.” The inclusion part of D&I is a daily action item where one must consciously overcome any unconscious bias.

In the effort to make patients “feel comfortable and confident every time [they] seek care,” large healthcare systems like Providence Health & Services in Renton, Washington, are creating the position of a dedicated D&I Officer — making change visible in the industry. By sharing these perspectives, we hope to inspire everyone to be more courageous, more empathetic and more collaborative in the effort to eradicate systemic racism and creating equal opportunities for all.

Based on our dialogue with our clients, our key finding is that top, inclusive talent within the healthcare industry results in better care at a lower cost for a wider community. Both for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare organizations can attract more (paying) patients by strengthening their commitment to D&I. This will allow the providers to reinvest in better equipment. In addition, people in need of healthcare who cannot afford to pay their bills can receive service. As a result, all of us can deliver on our pledge to save lives and serve the community.

So, to answer the question “Is the time right?” we respond with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “It is always the right time to do the right thing.”

To learn more about how we can bring ideas, insight and solutions to you, please contact your Relationship Manager or fill out a simple Contact Form and we’ll get in touch with you.