Equitable hiring is critical for your patients and the health of your organization. But when bias creeps into your hiring practices, you wind up with a less diverse, less inclusive, and less effective workplace. The impact of unfair hiring can be felt everywhere, damaging workforce morale and hurting patient well-being. In fact, the American Hospital Association states that “diverse and inclusive hiring is central to health equity.” This means that as the workforce becomes more diverse and equitable, patients also receive more equitable care.
But while it’s easy to say “hire equitably,” it’s harder to put equity in hiring into motion. We break down the impact of unfair hiring practices and what you can do to have a more non-discriminatory workplace.
The term equity refers to a sense of fairness and justice. While equality in hiring means treating every candidate or employee the same, equity means acknowledging that we do not all start from the same place. In order to be an equitable employer, you don’t just have to treat employees equally – you have to adjust your approach based on your employee’s position.
As an example, a 2021 report found that half of LGBTQ+ community members faced job discrimination. An equal response would involve simply doing your best to ensure that employees are treated fairly. But this response, though well-intended, doesn’t acknowledge the heightened difficulty of navigating a workplace while LGBTQ+. An equitable employer could offer additional resources for members of the LGBTQ+ community to help them air grievances and report bias without retaliation. Another resource could be an anonymous suggestion box, either physical or an online form, so employees can provide feedback without the anxiety.
When you practice equity in hiring, your workforce becomes more diverse. This allows traditionally underrepresented groups the opportunity to work and make a livelihood. This can improve employee satisfaction and help your bottom line. Here are just some of the many reasons why equity in hiring is important in health care.
According to one study by UC Denver, “patients generally fare better when care [is] provided by more diverse teams.” These findings suggest that diverse health care teams bring a range of perspectives and experiences, leading to improved patient outcomes. Diversity and equity don’t just help your staff – they affect your patients, too.
When underserved populations aren’t brought into the hiring fold, it causes a lack of diversity in the workforce. This means that it’s less likely a patient with unique cultural needs will see themselves reflected in their care staff. For example, if a patient only speaks Spanish, they might be able to communicate with Spanish-speaking staff until an interpreter can be sourced. Without this kind of care, the chances are higher that the patient could experience a breakdown in communication, lower satisfaction levels, and decreased trust in the health care system overall.
Employees thrive in inclusive and equitable work environments where they feel valued and respected. Employers have the ability to ensure that our workplaces are accessible to qualified candidates, regardless of their identity and background. It’s a moral imperative that employers seek to hire equitably and provide space for underrepresented communities. Failing to practice equitable hiring can also open employers up to legal ramifications.
By actively promoting and implementing equity in hiring, health care organizations can attract a broader pool of qualified candidates – including individuals from underrepresented communities. This approach helps mitigate the staffing shortage by tapping into talent that might have been otherwise overlooked in traditional hiring practices.
To understand where you stand on equity in hiring, take a look at the numbers.
If you collect your candidates’ demographic data, analyze that information to see if you’re attracting workers who represent your community. If you don’t collect this information, consider an alternate approach. For instance, send out surveys to understand if your employees are satisfied with their workplace equity. You might also invite patients to provide feedback, as they personally feel the effects of a diverse (and not-so diverse) workplace.
Analyze your findings to see what you could change. Is your candidate pool homogeneous? Do you have a diverse range of candidates but not a diverse workforce? There might be some conscious or unconscious bias hurting your hiring process.
Not all job descriptions are equally welcoming and inclusive. It takes time and thought to write a job description that promotes diversity and equity. Here are some of the factors that you should consider.
Partner with local organizations that support underrepresented populations. Place ads in community-specific newspapers with a diverse audience, for example. Diversify the job fairs where your organization has a presence. Build partnerships with organizations and institutions that focus on supporting underrepresented communities in health care.
Having a diverse group of interviewers can help mitigate biases, bring varied perspectives, and contribute to fair and inclusive decision making. You won’t be able to cover every identity when putting together an interview panel, but you can increase the likelihood that someone will see themselves reflected in the room and decrease the chance of unconscious bias.
Work with outside agencies to train hiring managers in equitable recruiting practices. If you’re unable to bring in outsider trainers, develop training within your HR team. Don’t ask employees to run these trainings themselves, as this puts undue labor on already underrepresented groups.
Potential Types of Training
Just as you started by evaluating diversity and equity in health care, return to these numbers once you implement new strategies to boost equity in hiring. Are they showing an improvement? If not, what can you do differently? Continue assessing your data (whether it’s demographic data or qualitative employee survey response) to track your process and maintain inclusivity.
We know that health care employers need software that works together. That’s why Viventium offers a recruiting and hiring platform through Apploi to provide a seamless candidate experience. Reach out to schedule your free, personalized demo.
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