Diversity and inclusion (more commonly known today as D&I) have, without a doubt, become the top buzz words in 2021. In broad terms, the acronym refers to the efforts an institution takes to create a more welcoming environment for people of less-privileged identities. It is a philosophy that many employers have attempted to embrace in one form or another in the past year.
As a healthcare provider, we realize we have a tremendous impact on the hundreds of communities we serve across the country. As such, we take very seriously our responsibility to implement and maintain programs that promote D&I—not only as it affects our teammates, but also as it relates to our patient care and client relationships. We continue to explore ways through which we make patients more comfortable in sharing sensitive information with us. In order for us to effectively treat patients, we believe we need to approach them holistically. We need to fully understand the challenges our patients face, so we can customize treatment programs that are appropriate for who they are, what they believe and what they need to thrive.
At the same time, we are working to create a more inclusive work environment for our employees. We have made major strides in this area with the implementation of a number of new, exciting initiatives, including:
- D&I Council. In 2020, Everside identified a dozen employees representing different geographic locations, legacy organizations and positions within the company who are intentionally focused on enhancing D&I throughout our organization. This group meets monthly to brainstorm proactive initiatives and to help plan for unexpected issues that may arise in the D&I area. These people will rotate in their roles on an annual basis so we continue to gather as many different perspectives as possible.
- New D&I hires. Putting our money where our mouth is, we have already started to hire several new people who are focused exclusively on issues of diversity and equality and plans are in place for future hires. Current hires include a new VP of Talent, Inclusion and Teammate Experience, as well as a new D&I Manager. These individuals bring with them a wealth of D&I knowledge and experience from other companies that are recognized leaders in the area of diversity.
- Everside Speakers’ Series. New for our company is our speakers’ series which will feature thought-provoking discussions around such controversial topics as race disparity and transgender healthcare based on personal experiences.
- CEO Action Pledge. In May, Everside CEO Chris Miller joined nearly 2000 other CEOs in signing the CEO Action Pledge. This is part of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion initiative that works to rally the business community to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. Through this pledge, Chris committed to a specified set of actions designed to cultivate a trusting environment in which all ideas are welcomed and employees feel empowered to have discussions about diversity and inclusion.
- Celebrate Diversity Day. Everside employees are eligible for an additional floating holiday that allows them to celebrate diversity. This could include taking time off to attend a Pride Parade, visit a museum or volunteer for a pertinent organization. The goal is for employees to then share with their teammates what they learned as a result of this experience.
- Use of preferred pronouns. Earlier in 2021, Everside began encouraging (but not mandating) employees to identify themselves with a preferred pronoun, i.e. he/him, she/her, they/them, as part of their email signatures.
- Listening circles. Starting in 2020, we hosted a series of virtual listening circles through which Everside leadership could hear from employees about their opinions, suggestions and concerns around various diversity issues.
We are proud of the efforts and progress we’ve made in the area of D&I thus far but realize we have a long way to go in creating a truly inclusive environment. This is not a one-time initiative in response to current trends. Rather, it is an embedded part of our DNA. And we look forward to implementing new ideas that will impact how we interact with patients, clients, business/community partners and employees. Look to hear more from us on this subject in the near future.