Monday, April 16, 2007

Statements on diversity by the CEOs of healthcare orgs: Mayo Clinic vs Sisters of St Mary Health Centers

Definitions of diversity

Diversity refers to all the characteristics which distinguish individuals or groups from one another. It includes distinctions based on race, color, creed, religion, gender, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, veteran’s status, disability, or status with regard to public assistance.

It is the policy of SSM Health Care to provide equal opportunity for all persons and to prevent discrimination and harassment on the basis of: race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, religion, religious background, sex, marital status, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, current or past military status, citizenship, genetic makeup, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law and/or our mission and values. This policy relates to all aspects of employment, including recruitment and selection, training, promotion, job classification, staff development, supervision, transfers, compensation, discipline, assignments, layoff and terminations.

Rationales for embracing diversity
“Diversity is a core value for Mayo Clinic. To best serve our patients, we must attract and retain the best and the brightest minds from the broadest talent pool. The more diverse we are, the more attuned to our patients we’ll be.”

“By embracing this statement, Mayo benefits from different viewpoints and perspectives, greater innovation and creativity, and a broad pool of qualified staff members that will enable us to recruit and retain the best talent.”

Dennis Cortese, President and CEO, Mayo Clinic

"Because SSM Health Care is dedicated to serving all people, the employees at our health facilities must reflect the communities we serve … We want people of all cultures and backgrounds to feel welcome and comfortable when they are guests in our facilities. … Currently about half of all executive positions within SSM Health Care are held by women. I’m very proud of that accomplishment because we worked hard to achieve that goal. We are also working hard to achieve equally positive results in all other areas of diversity. Our reasons are simple. SSM Health Care is committed to caring for persons in body, mind, and spirit. We want our patients to feel that they’ve received the kind of care that touches their souls. To be sure that we provide the highest quality, most compassionate care, we must have a diverse workforce of people who are committed to quality and service."

Sr Mary Jean Ryan, FSM, President and CEO, SSMHC

There's a very subtle difference. Mayo Clinic is committed to diversity in terms of its instrumental value: patient care and quality of staff.

SSMHC is also committed to diversity for its instrumental value, but also for a deeper reason. At least as far as statements made on each organization's website go, SSMHC seems to place more intrinsic value on diversity than Mayo does.

I'm not trying to diss Mayo; they're second only to Johns Hopkins in terms of medical care, and they are making efforts to engage diversity. Their reasons are exactly what you should expect from any medical provider, nonprofit or for-profit (Mayo is the former). Instrumental reasons alone should be sufficient to make efforts to recruit diverse medical staff and to ensure care for diverse patient populations.

However, at SSMHC, diversity seems to be more of a core, fundamental value. It's kind of like the difference between a calling and a profession. There are a lot of professionals in, say, public health. They're very good at what they do. And then, there are some people who are called to do this, like people are called to the priesthood.

Which one am I? We'll see.

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