By Oliver Tomlin
We are living in a world of diverse backgrounds, opinions, beliefs and values. The workplace is no exception. Traditionally, it has been the job of human resources executives to maintain a safe and respectful workplace for all employees and ensure diversity and inclusion. However, it is becoming clear that executives with specialized training are more adept at improving workplace relations among different types of people, recruiting diverse employees, and improving and implementing strategies for inclusion.
In a recent article, Lena J. Weiner of HealthLeaders Media explored the purpose and benefits of a Chief Diversity Officer in the healthcare arena. I shared some of my own insight for this piece, having worked with many organizations to recruit CDOs, as did Deborah L. Plummer, Ph.D., vice chancellor and chief diversity officer of University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Healthcare. Below are three main points from the article, highlighting ways a CDO can improve the workplace:
- Make sure everyone is heard: It is the job of a CDO to create a safe environment where employees are not only allowed to express their opinions and ideas, but also feel safe doing so.
- Teach awareness: An integral part of a CDO’s job is to teach the workforce to be sensitive to differences in backgrounds and opinions, especially in diverse workplaces and communities. This understanding creates a cohesive, unified staff to better meet day-to-day challenges.
- Devise and implement inclusion strategies: This falls directly to the CDO, whose main concern is often the strategy behind inclusion and the retention of workplace diversity. In this way, the CDO provides a direct support for human resources departments.
With these priorities in place, workplaces will better foster the growth and development of all employees, maintaining collaborative and safe environments.
Oliver B. Tomlin, III is a senior partner in Witt/Kieffer’s education and healthcare practices and serves on the firm’s board of directors. He has more than 30 years of highly successful management experience.