New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan Takes Center Stage

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Take Center Stage in New Strategic Plan

“Ensuring that Cincinnati Children’s truly represents the diversity of our community is part of living our Core Values and Our Expectations.” --Brian Coley, MD

When Cincinnati Children’s first opened its doors as the Protestant Episcopal Hospital in March 1884, its mission was to care for children, regardless of race, religion or socio-economic status. That dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has been part of the bedrock of the organization ever since. But in today’s cultural climate of increasing racial tensions, gender and sexual orientation bias and social disparities, commitment to DEI has taken on a deeper urgency, especially as it relates to children.

Living and championing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is fundamental to who we are, and more importantly, who we aspire to be—a place where everyone feels welcome, safe, valued and respected.

A unified and unwavering focus on DEI will strengthen our care, research, and educational mission and will enhance our culture to be a better workplace for all.

In that spirit, Cincinnati Children’s announces its new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, which will build on the work we are already doing. The five-year comprehensive plan will embed DEI into every area of the medical center, covering four interrelated categories:

People—Any success we achieve, as an organization, begins with our people. We will focus on cultivating, retaining and bringing in diverse talent, while also continuing to foster a welcoming environment where our existing employees and leaders can reach their full potential.

Cultural Competence—Helping all children achieve their potential requires that we learn and maintain the necessary skills to effectively interact and connect with people of all backgrounds. We will accomplish this by developing our employees’ capabilities and by embedding cultural competence into our systems and environments.

Equity and Health Excellence—We will create equitable outcomes that account for individual and population needs, whether those individuals/populations are our own employees or the patients, families, and communities we serve. We must work to understand these needs, potential barriers and assets so that we can co-create solutions.

Community and Neighbors—We strive to make Cincinnati’s kids the healthiest in the nation while also recognizing that our community is our workforce. It is essential that we work alongside and as part of the community, partnering to advance the health, vitality and well-being of our region.

Visit the new DEI Strategic Plan site on CenterLink

Why It Matters

The advantages of a diverse and inclusive workplace have been well-researched and documented. It makes organizations and teams more creative, innovative, effective, and profitable. Similarly, cultural competence and equity, particularly in relation to health, are known to be principally important in care delivery, experience, and outcomes, and have undeniable effects on research design and its findings.

Says Michael Fisher, president and CEO, “Living our Core Value of ‘Respect Everyone’ means learning about and embracing diversity, equity and inclusion. Like our responsibility for safety, it will take all of us championing DEI in every way if we are truly to Pursue Our Potential Together so every employee and all kids can pursue theirs.”

The Performance Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees stand in solid support of making DEI integral to everything we do and are prepared to lead the way.

“I don’t feel we can ever overstate the necessity to recruit, hire and retain a clinical workforce that is representative of the patients and families we serve,” says Barb Tofani, MSN, RN, senior vice president, Patient Services. “Creating and supporting an environment of diversity and inclusion in our clinical areas leads to improved patient and family satisfaction, trust and outcomes. It contributes to improving our cultural competency so that we may better understand and care for our patients, and it demonstrates a climate of acceptance and value for our patients, families and employees.”

Says Brian Coley, MD, Radiologist-in-Chief, “Ensuring that Cincinnati Children’s truly represents the diversity of our community and that all employees have equitable opportunities to thrive will create a stronger and more vibrant organization. Inclusivity leads to greater psychological safety, more honest engagement with each other, and more thoughtful decisions at all levels. It is also just the right thing to do and is part of living our Core Values and Our Expectations.”

Making Sure Every Voice Is Heard

Through the years, many departments and divisions have launched DEI programs that have been highly successful. So what is the advantage in creating an institutional and comprehensive strategic plan?

Owen Burke, an internal consultant for Diversity and Inclusion, explains, “The DEI programs we have in place are accomplishing great things, but they are effective for a specific area, so they aren’t able to make an impact at scale. The DEI Strategic Plan provides an over-arching framework that includes intentional actions and accountability for success. DEI is everyone’s responsibility. Our office is here to support it and offer guidance.”

The plan, itself, was developed following a six-month process that involved hundreds of one-on-one interviews with subject experts and focus groups from across the organization.

Says Burke, “People were very engaged. There is a real longing to see demonstrable action and accelerated progress around DEI, and they were thrilled to be part of the process to make it happen.”

But as excited as people are, some are afraid—afraid that as under-represented groups have more of a voice, majority groups might have something to lose.

Says Burke, “We have worked hard to make sure our plan is inclusive. Everyone has a place at the table. Everyone has something to gain.”

Achieving Success

Cincinnati Children’s will roll out cultural awareness and competence training for all employees in the next few weeks to set a baseline understanding of DEI-related terms, tools and expectations. After that, more specialized cultural competency training will be offered.

We’ll measure our progress in part via employee surveys, as well as recruitment and retention of diverse staff. Externally, we’ll also be monitoring results.

Says Nerissa Morris, senior vice president and chief HR and diversity officer, “As we introduce the DEI Strategic Plan, we realize that changing behavior takes time, and our efforts will be enduring. Our hope is that as we learn together, engage in ongoing and meaningful dialogue, and implement the actions of this plan, that being a genuinely inclusive organization will be seen and felt in every place, interaction and outcome. We have bold aspirations, and we all play an important part in making them come true. This work has to matter to all of us.”

“There is a real longing to see demonstrable action and accelerated progress around DEI." --Owen Burke

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