Return On Investment : Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

Martin Luther King Jr.

It is no secret that in every company, the bottom line is making money, and getting the greatest return on investment. Too often, everything a company does works exclusively towards protecting financial assets, capturing the next dollar, and increasing the company’s economic status. Despite this all-consuming goal, another aspect of a company is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which may not seem to correlate directly with profit, but is sure to make the company more productive. Everyone from the CEO to the workers on the shop floor have a part to play in speaking up to build an inclusive community. If you are looking to increase your company’s rate of return, you must invest in the human capital if you want to increase your net income. Though it can be uncomfortable to address the elements outside the financial arm of your organization, you should not overlook Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion simply because of fear of what you will find. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a secret gem increases appreciation for the diversity of work done and makes everyone feel better by allowing real inclusion to happen. Not only to these principles increase the physical diversity in people, but also the gem of more exposure to diversity of thought. The approach of many historical leaders to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has been to propose scattered ideas and see what sticks. We want to promote consistent progress towards Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the betterment of business and people.

Diversity of thought explores others' minds based on their culture, background, experiences, and personalities, which leads to diverse solutions to common problems. While those in leadership see an organization one way, and those within the labor force see it a different way. All the while, the community perceives the organization differently than both leadership and labor force. It goes without saying there will always be someone who sees a thing differently, but different doesn't always mean better. But if you never know, what or how they see or feel about an item, you may think your ideas are the only answers.

The truth is that all organizations don't approach or address diversity in the same way, or even at all. Some find comfort in the pages of policies and procedures. Others have taken the stance of establishing employee resource groups or promoting diverse cultural holidays. Organizations that aggressively pursue Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion often ensure that they have diverse leadership teams. Some have taken the humbling measure of hiring a consultant to help address the uncomfortable places of this work. While not promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will impact your company’s bottom line, financial gain cannot be seen as the driving goal, people need to know that their leadership cares about them. If you fail to connect the dots, you will not be reaching your full potential as an organization. It goes without saying that many surveys have been done and reviewed, and yet we still have these concerns. But suppose the only price to doing business was to address our financial bottom line. We'd miss the more excellent gift: the diversity of people. Without diversity in the company, the investment is then jeopardized, as are opportunities for minority communities.

In short, we are missing the mark. Making an investment into people and their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, is an essential investment to building a better community. With all the data, one would think that we would have made a shift in addressing diversity by making real implemented efforts toward results. So, here's the challenge, will you take part in the concerted effort to work within your organization to addressing diversity?

It takes many people to run companies and make a profit, and with that comes issues that people respond differently to. A few problems that come to mind are health disparities, social injustice, personal financial responsibilities, and discrimination. Here are a few areas that are recognized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. Each issue brings a challenge, and many within minority communities have to deal with more than just one at a time. Last year these and many other issues came to light. If we would be honest with ourselves, 2020 was a challenging year on many fronts, between Covid-19 and racial tension. With the effects of COVID-19 being such a global health concern and the many challenges it bought forth, the minority community's plight was elevated in many ways. The African American community is about 12 percent of the population, and among them the infection and the death toll are high showing that testing and treatment were low. Social injustice has always plagued businesses, but COVID-19 has exacerbated impacts on many businesses' workforces. And those fortunate to have bailout programs that help meet their needs or save their businesses got an opportunity to survive. But there are many who, even in getting stimulus support they were already drowning in debt. And a lot of these workers work within the health care field or service industry. This picture shows how we dealt with or, more importantly, did not deal with each issue and the intent of finding a solution and implementing it. How do we make the business case for the care for real change for minorities within our communities through the channels of doing diversity work? The challenge here is to paint a picture that leaves you asking how your image looks within your organization and how can you lead the charge of change? Our organization is doing just that. We are taking a real look into what it means to serve our community neighbors with the resources and talent we have from the platform of diversity. With our leadership taking time to address this work, we have also put together an employee resource group to give voice to the workforce. And we have hired a consultant who has experience with complicated matters.

Allow me to explain what hospice is and does. Hospice focuses on those who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. And it focuses on providing compassionate and intentional service with routine care, continuous care, general inpatient care, and respite care. Each of these speaks to the bottom line of the intended investment, which is the people. We have done the data gathering of what our service areas look like and what we thought could be done from an economic effort. But more importantly, we have taken the time to talk to people. We will continue to speak to those we serve internally and externally, for they are our stakeholders as you are also. Doing this will make for a more concerted effort of getting out of our comfort zone. Our goal is to invest in people who will make companies promoters of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It is up to all of us to make it happen. I challenge you to do the work!

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