Healthcare Series: Cultivating a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion | Ophelia Byers

Ophelia Byers is the VP and Chief Nursing Officer at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. She has more than 20 years of leadership experience, and in this episode, she discusses her passion: racism-related stress in the workplace. 

Listen as Ophelia shares moving stories of employees who have had such experiences and what leaders should be doing to gain awareness on this problem.

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Truth You Can Act On:

1. Assume We All Have the Opportunity to Sharpen Awareness
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Ophelia Byers: “There is not always the awareness of what someone’s lived experience is at work. Our obligation is to do some vision correction, and that comes through awareness. It comes through learning and self-study. It comes through a variety of ways, but we have to first recognize that we do not see all and that we really need diverse perspectives from a diverse group of individuals to be able to be more aware.”

2. Identify Risks and Challenges to Prioritize Focus for Change
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Ophelia Byers: “When we think about quality, we first think there are roadblocks. There are potential problems. There are actual problems. So first, it starts with problem identification or risk identification. That’s important, and that’s where that awareness comes in. Let’s all just assume that there’s an opportunity to dig deeper, think more expansively. So, in that risk identification or problem identification, you’re thinking about what are your employees going through. What are the safety risks? What are the adverse events or near misses and anyone in healthcare, we certainly understand those terms around the employee experience. Usually, we do it around patient safety, but let’s do it around the psychological safety of our employees.”

3. Diversity and Inclusion Is a Process
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Ophelia Byers: “There should be a process to this. What we don’t want to do is treat diversity as something that, if we have multicultural potlucks or have “Wear Your Ethnic Attire to Work” day, or just have the crucial conversations around diversity. Those are all wonderful things that can certainly boost morale, but beyond boosting morale, what does structural change look like? And so making sure that there is a methodical approach to this, which this quality management approach can help improve, by taking all the information that we’ve gleaned and putting together an improvement process. Organized healthcare organizations are very familiar with processes, like plan, do, study, but really taking out some higher level themes and starting to say, okay, this is what we need to work on.”

4. Constantly Evaluate Your Organization’s Diversity
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Ophelia Byers: “It’s continuing to have those dialogues to check back, continuing to monitor if our interventions have been effective. How are they landing with people? Is what we hope to achieve actually occurring? And it’s circling back to people that you spoke with to understand if the interventions that were put in place are going as intended. So, it is this self-check process to ensure safety through standardization, to ensure high reliability. And I think that in taking this approach, there’s not one organization that doesn’t understand quality. And so making diversity and inclusion about quality of care, not only for the customer, but also for the internal customer, for our employees, is a great way to promote structural change.”

 

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