You don’t have to manage hundreds of people or be in a leadership position to embrace the values of diversity and inclusion, says Dani Monroe, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Partners HealthCare.
Since Monroe joined Partners a year ago in the newly created position, she has been working to develop and implement an innovative diversity and inclusion strategy across Partners.
On March 13, Monroe spoke to an audience in Bornstein Amphitheater about these values during an interview-style discussion moderated by Pothik Chatterjee, MBA, director of Business Development and Strategic Planning for the BWPO and co-chair of the Brigham Health LGBT and Allies Employee Resource Group, which sponsored the event.
When diversity and inclusion aren’t cultivated at an organization, opportunities are missed and untapped talent goes to waste, Monroe said. From a business perspective, it can mean not having the appropriate insight to get a footing in diverse markets, she explained. Internally, a lack of diversity can limit innovation if staff or job candidates don’t feel welcome, supported and safe bringing forward their perspectives.
“When employees – whether they’re women, people of color or members of the LGBT community – enter an organization, they look for people like themselves. What they see or experience sends a signal about how successful they can be in an organization,” Monroe said.
The LGBT and Allies Employee Resource Group organized the event to help ensure that conversations about diversity and inclusion are ongoing, Chatterjee said.
“Talking about these issues is especially important, given the uncertainty felt by many people across the country in recent years,” he said.
Many of Partners’ institutions are in different places in developing their diversity and inclusion work, Monroe said. Regardless of where the entities are in their process, she noted it is important to develop two or three evidence-based goals that are consistently applied across the Partners family. Some examples of these goals are included in the Partners 2.0 opportunity statement, such as communicating and collaborating across the continuum of care and increasing the diversity of our workforce in order to advance our mission.
“We are this big family, and those inclusive leadership behaviors will help us make decisions for the whole system,” Monroe said. “If we make better decisions for the system, then better decisions will be made for each of the institutions in the long term.”
Since joining Partners, Monroe and her colleagues have been training leaders and their teams in creating diversity and inclusion action plans. The teams have since met with Monroe and spoken about ways to move these values forward in several areas – leadership accountability, HR processes, procedures and policies, and community service – in their departments. Now, Monroe and her team are following up to see what has succeeded and what challenges remain.
While much progress has been made in recent years, the work around diversity and inclusion never stops, Monroe said. Regardless of external factors, our focus as a community is to ensure all who enter our doors feel safe, physically and emotionally, she said.
“Whatever the environment is, you keep doing the work,” she said. “We have to be bolder than we’ve ever been before.”