Best practices and a working model for promoting inclusion of women in healthcare leadership

Alanna Dorsey, Rona Lee, Wendy Zheng, Magali Fassiotto


There is a growing demand to increase the representation and empowerment of female leaders, and companies must implement effective policies to rise to the challenge. This article presents a potent new set of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) protocols for healthcare administration to meet this challenge. The paper evaluates DEI practices and provides suggestions on advancing metrics such as recruitment, engagement and retention of women employees. We conducted a literature review and interviewed field experts to investigate best practices for shaping an inclusive healthcare leadership team. We identified four recurring themes, which are the key takeaways for successfully implementing any DEI initiative: 1. Garner support from the CEO and Board of Directors to establish the importance of the initiative throughout the company. 2. Engage employees directly; lead participants in designing diversity initiatives and encourage them to contribute their own ideas, rather than just going through the motions. 3. Involve the entire workforce, not just the top managers. As a definition of inclusion, everyone’s perspective is essential for building a widespread work culture that exemplifies DEI principles. 4. Design DEI protocols that encompass life both in and out of the office, such as assisting women leaders with childcare needs. We then examine the most common DEI strategies: diversity training, employee resource groups, mentorship programs, and leadership development. Though these methods have their merits and shortcomings, expert input can mitigate the pitfalls. Lastly, we validate research-based interventions. According to the literature, healthcare has not adequately taken advantage of sponsorship opportunities, so we designed an executive-emerging leader sponsorship program. This protocol is supplemented with other interventions, such as interactive diversity training and ERG (employee resource group) playbooks, to foster the workspace crucial to the flourishing of program participants. Overall, we conducted secondary research on the best DEI protocols available, and augmented our findings with interviews we conducted. Therefore the findings we share are based on limited knowledge and do not represent the entire solution to diversity, equity and inclusion in healthcare leadership. Based on the best practices we are aware of, we present a multi-pronged approach to help healthcare administration shape a more equitable future for people of all backgrounds.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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