By Dr. Nika White
President and CEO, Nika White Consulting, LLC
It’s great to have diverse employees in your company, but if they don’t feel included, they more than likely will not stay. This article examines some of the current growing trends in team building and talent engagement, sharing examples from Greenville Health System and the Greenville Chamber.
An organization doesn’t get to decide whether it has an inclusive work environment. Rather, it’s up to the individual employees to determine inclusivity based on a sense of belonging, acceptance, and value. The true test is when the organization’s employees can claim inclusivity. One way to accomplish inclusivity is to strengthen team engagement through team building activities designed to create healthy workplace interactions, ensuring all employees feel seen, supported, and valued.
Greenville Health System
Dr. Scott Porter, newly appointed vice president of culture and inclusivity with Greenville Health System, recognizes that the concept of inclusion affects leaders in different ways. According to Porter, “the concept of inclusion for an open-minded and culturally aware leader, means a host of things including opportunities for growth, strength, and improvement in the entire organization.”
To facilitate inclusive team building, companies must have workforce diversity and an inclusive culture. GHS accomplishes this through efforts of its internal recruiters who work to ensure diverse representation for various positions within the organization. For existing employees, GHS focuses on retention and development primarily through their employee resource groups (ERGs). Currently GHS has six ERGS representing the following groups: African Americans, young professionals, veterans, women and Hispanic employees, and LGBT.
The ERGs allow these traditionally underrepresented groups the opportunity to learn and grow, both personally and professionally, which has positive implications for retention. ERGs also provide opportunities for face time with key GHS leaders. Including others in ERG efforts outside of the targeted demographic, fosters education and produces allies. Therefore, GHS opens its ERGs to all employees, which is a best practice of ERGs.
GHS’ Diversity Department works with the Learning and Development Team on two key initiatives across the system: Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) and New Employee Orientation. Mentoring is infused in ELP. All employees have extensive training in diversity and inclusion at New Employee Orientation, which allows them to learn the importance of this concept immediately. Jessica Sharp, interim diversity manager, says that GHS regularly examines employee data at all levels of the organization to identify gaps in diversity and inclusion. Sharp advises organizations to take a hard look at their policies and practices to make sure they do not hinder underrepresented employees, and also proactively identify ways to help those groups thrive.
Like many other organizations that are passionate about diversity and inclusion, GHS continues to improve diverse representation at the top levels of the organization. One practice GHS is committed to is having diverse candidates for all positions to increase the likelihood that diverse candidates will be selected.
“We see a wide variety of patients at our hospitals, so it is imperative that we have a staff that reflects that diversity, but also that we have the skills to work with various patients,” said Sharp.
GHS has seen a huge increase in Hispanic patients over the past few years, which has greatly increased its Language Services Department.
GHS implements a myriad of education opportunities to help its leaders and key decision makers understand the importance of diversity and inclusion and are equipped with the tools to make a positive impact. When GHS thinks about inclusion, the organization considers the various dimensions of diversity. Diverse teams can be ineffective without inclusion. According to Sharp, “inclusion is as much the goal as diversity.”
GHS works hard to make diversity a part of the infrastructure. The organization has an external Diversity Advisory Council, an internal Health Equity Task Force, an internal Accessibility Committee and an internal LGBT Patient Care Collaborative. The GHS diversity staff has wide influence- working across all levels and at all campuses and locations to ensure system-wide commitment to inclusion.
The Greenville Chamber recognizes that full potential is realized when diversity and inclusion is the standard to strengthen and impact the community. The Greenville Chamber’s commitment to this charge is evidenced in both its internal and external leadership in the work of diversity and inclusion. The Greenville Chamber ensures diversity and inclusion is an integral part of all aspects of the Chamber’s operations and strategic initiatives. The Greenville Chamber achieves this mission by:
• Advocating for economic inclusion
• Cultivating diversity leadership by providing resources and
opportunities for historically underserved populations to
connect, learn and grow
• Facilitating business growth and development of
underutilized and underrepresented companies
Leadership Greenville, a 10-month leadership development program seeks representation from a cross-section of the greater Greenville community, including leaders and emerging leaders who are active in business, education, the arts, religion, government, community-based organizations, and ethnic and minority groups. Leadership Greenville represents Greenville’s diversity, professionally and geographically, as well as in the areas of age, race, gender and ethnicity.
A few years ago, the Chamber established a Hispanic Business Council to effectively assist Hispanic business leaders in business development opportunities and growth to drive economic inclusion and diversity in Chamber investor engagement. The council executes multiple initiatives each year including a multicultural professional engagement opportunity and Hispanic business forums to discuss the impact of Latinos in the Upstate community. Since inception, the Chamber has seen an increase in its Hispanic business investors.
Another leadership program offered by the chamber is PULSE, designed for ages 22-39 in the greater Greenville area. PULSE provides outlets for social connection, as well as professional and leadership development opportunities, including a robust mentor initiative known as Pace Setters.
Each year, the Chamber executes strategies to advocate for leadership diversity within underrepresented populations. The Community Leadership Pipeline is evidence of this, which advances women, multicultural professionals, and young professionals in leadership roles in the Greenville community who may be interested in serving in various leadership capacities, including boards of directors. Other Chamber opportunities that foster engagement, team building and advancement among women leaders and entrepreneurs include Greenville Women@Work, and ATHENA Leadership Symposium. The ACE Leadership Symposium is a Chamber offering focused on advancing multicultural leadership.
One of the most notable initiatives of the Chamber is the Minority Business Accelerator (MBA), which helps accelerate the development of high potential underutilized businesses including women-owned and minority-owned firms, to strengthen and expand the regional entrepreneurial community. MBA achieves this through capacity building, referrals/introductions, business exposure, knowledge transfer, leadership coaching and access to opportunity potential. MBA provides engagement opportunities of business owners underrepresented in the market.
The common denominator between both GHS and the Greenville Chamber is the intentionality they devote to implementing strategies to foster engagement of diverse populations to best accomplish the organization’s mission. Each organization’s efforts are thoughtfully designed to engage people in achieving their full potential. When people feel supported and appreciated, they can give their best to their organizations.