Diversity Woman Magazine

WIN 2017

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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We Mean Business > d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m W i n t e r 2 0 1 7 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 29 W hen Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System came together in partnership with the University of Louisville Hospital to form KentuckyOne Health in 2012, three disparate health-care systems had to be integrated. KentuckyOne Health had the opportunity to begin with leadership that looked like the patients it serves. President and CEO Ruth Brinkley, FACHE, leads a team that includes Caucasian men, African American men, and women of color. Tanja Oquendo, the chief administrative officer and chief human resources officer for the organization, says she's never seen anything like it. "I can go to Ruth, and I can talk to her about my chal- lenges," says Oquendo. "The challenge could be the result of being a woman or a minority. And I just know she'll understand. There's an inherent level of understanding. I don't have to explain to them, really. The other person just gets it." As the person responsible for integrating the people and systems of three different health-care systems, Oquendo says that diversity at the top has an impact all the way down the operations. And by top, she doesn't just mean Brinkley; she means the organization's board of directors. "Our current board chair is insistent upon having a diverse board of directors and uses a broad spectrum of what diversity means," she says. "Our whole board is very engaged in asking Ruth and the organization questions in terms of what the diversity is like and how to improve it." Rather than treating diversity as a siloed program apart from the mission of the organization, leadership has inte- grated diversity into hiring processes—that means diverse leaders, but also diverse staff, a diverse organization, and a diverse patient population. And it's meant bringing on a vice president of diversity and inclusion, Ryan Parker, to be part of the team. "You don't get a diverse leadership team by accident. It has to be intentional," Oquendo says. "Part of our strategy is really to have diversity and inclusion as part of the framework of how we provide the highest quality and safest care to patients." Women Guide the Future of Health Care at KentuckyOne Health "So are women making progress?" asks Bowen. "Yes they are, in the breadth and depth of roles they are playing in organizations. But it's a little more sluggish in CEO roles." But in the last few decades, several things happened at once. First, the age of the American population and the diversity of that population were changing. e average patient was no longer a Caucasian man or his family. Women were caring for both their aging parents and their children, and those women increasingly were brown or black and immigrants. At the same time, health-care organi- zations began to focus their recruitment and retention efforts on diversifying their executive leadership. Programs ensured that women were involved in decision making and were groomed for leadership, and that diversity initiatives built into the core of business helped move women from traditional support roles into leadership—and those already in leadership toward the C-suite. All this is according to an ACHE white paper on gender diversity, which found that such programs have been around since at least 2006. Perhaps because of these two trends, a third thing happened: all these changes began to bubble to the surface. ACHE began to track gender issues in promotion and leadership, for instance, and report them publicly every five years. en came a leadership change in an- other industry—media—which redirect- ed the public conversation again. In 2001, Fawn Lopez began working at Modern Healthcare, a well-respected health-care business publication. In 2005, she became its publisher. Right away, Lopez says, she saw the gender disparity in health care. Often, she said, she was the only woman THINKSTOCKPHOTOS

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