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Establishing Equity

One way to continuously address and potentially mitigate diversity and workforce challenges is by establishing equity.  Naturally, there is no way to create equity in every area for every person. However, policies and procedures and hiring practices should demonstrate the organization's core values that are equitably applied to all employees.

1. Creating diverse staff and leadership. In a 2001 report by the Office of Minority Health, National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) were identified. CLAS standard 2 was to "recruit, retain, and promote"..."diverse staff and leadership that are representative of the demographic characteristics of the service area." In order to accomplish this goal, employers should create a diverse staff at all levels that is a general representation of the population in its geographic service area. For example, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, in the Kansas City, MO, area, the population is 59.2% White, 29.9% Black, 2.5% Asian, and 17.6% Latino. An employer, in this area, then should try to mirror these diverse characteristics within its employee population and likewise be comprised of 59.2% White, 29.9% Black, 2.5% Asian, and 17.6% Latino across the board.

Photo by Gerd Altman courtesy of
2. Forming diverse work committees. Given to their own devices, committees or project groups are more likely to choose to work with people most like themselves. The committee or group leaders may wish to select their friends or other individuals they enjoy working with. However, the workplace is not a junior high pajama party. Individuals should not be allowed to pick the members of a project or committee like they would teams in a P.E. class. The most appropriate individuals with the appropriate set of background and skills should be assigned by management. Those selected for the committee or project group should also be diverse.

3. Recognizing educational achievements and work experience.  Many health care organizations and divisions within those organizations are hierarchical, primarily based on level of skill and education. Unfortunately, it happens at the workplace almost every day. Someone is diminished for their education and experience almost every day in health care. Their ability may not be recognized because of age (too young or too old), gender, race, or ethnicity.  Is it intentional? Most likely not. However, whenever someone is paid the equivalent of or given an equitable position to someone with considerably less work experience or considerably less education an opportunity for diminishing or demeaning an employee is present. Telling someone "you think you are so great just because you went to college" or "you think you are better than me" or deciding to "put them in their place" is, in fact, a form of workplace bullying.

4. Establishing position level criteria for application. In this case, the position level criteria should involve making sure all individuals within the position have the same or equal qualifications for a position. If a nurse manager position requires a bachelor's degree, then all candidates should be required to hold a bachelor's degree.  If a volunteer coordinator position requires a high school diploma, then those considered for the job should hold a high school diploma. However, considering a masters level candidate for the same position would be inappropriate. That is part of recognizing skill ability. Moreover, position requirements should be equitable for all employees. Employees within the position should be required to perform at an equitable level to others in the same position. If someone cannot meet the essential functions of the position, the response should not be to give them easier tasks related to the position and give more difficult tasks to other employees. In other words, the person is not qualified for the position. Likewise, a high performer who can easily complete all functions of the job with quality performance should be considered for higher-level positions that utilize all of their skills.

These are only beginning and basic points for establishing staffing equity within a health care organization. Additional methods and techniques that promote, educate, and reward those for their accomplishments, both academically and in the workplace, should be utilized.