Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

Diversity Management: Key to Future Success

Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

Diversity Management: Key to Future Success

Article excerpt


Diversity has been a reality for American's health care field for years. Yet, a 1993 study conducted by the American College of Healthcare Executives and the National Association of Health Services Executives found that management opportunities for minorities are often limited; ethnic and racial minorities represent nearly 20 percent of all hospital employees, yet hold only 1 percent of top hospital management positions; and graduate school enrollments and graduation of minorities have declined. The article will set forth the major business implications of diversity management in health care in an increasingly competitive labor market. It will challenge assumptions and provide a blueprint for health care institutions to position themselves as future industry leaders.

In the 20 May 1993 issue of Hospitals, the following headline appeared, "Culture Shock: Are U.S. Hospitals Ready?" This article will explore aspects of "culture shock" and the implications it has for the health care field.

To begin to understand the dramatic changes facing the health care field, we must first focus on the labor force demographics and address the implications of these demographic trends. In 1987, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Hudson Institute in Indianapolis, Indiana, undertook a comprehensive analysis of the work and workers of the twenty-first century. The result was a publication entitled Workforce 2000 (Johnston and Packer 1987). The purpose of the study was to provide the basic intelligence on the job market to assist in evaluating the adequacy of current public policies and to address future policy initiatives. This study caught the attention of the American business community. The dire picture painted by Workforce 2000 was clear--the luxury historically held by organizations of having an abundance of qualified applicants from which to select employees was changing, and changing dramatically. For the first time in the history of American business, human capital will become an asset as vital to organizational survival as its physical facilities and real estate are to its financial assets. Health care institutions are and will continue to be affected by these changing demographics, as they are and will remain at the pinnacle of future job market growth. According to projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (1990) of the top 15 job growth areas of the future, over 51 percent will be in health care.

Many of the job categories listed for growth in the study are already problematic areas in many health care institutions throughout the country. Continued growth in the demand of these jobs will only exacerbate already growing vacancies (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 1990) (see Table 1).(Table 1 omitted) Table 1 shows that the majority of these jobs are in nontraditional health care settings, which emphasizes the challenge to health care institutions to reexamine the paradigms defining health care settings.

The dramatic changes occurring within the hospital industry--that is, significant financial and organizational restructuring and movement from independent community hospitals to interdependent health care systems--have caused some to refer to the future in terms of "hospitals without walls." In Strategic Choices for America's Hospitals, Shortell, Morrison, and Friedman (1990) provide an excellent analysis of the turbulence affecting today's hospitals. And, this turbulence does not even reflect the myriad possibilities of change as a result of the move toward health care reform. They identify three major moves requiring strategic shifts in managing effective health care institutions, and they can be summarized as follows:

* From a product orientation to a market orientation. In the past, the product orientation consisted of the philosophy of providing services to patients brought to the institutions by the medical staff. The future market orientation will require a proactive analysis and definition of market needs and preferences and the allocation of appropriate resources to meet those needs. …

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