Importance of Cultural Diversity in Healthcare

the importance of cultural diversity in healthcare

Diversity: It’s important in life, it’s important in culture, and it’s incredibly important in healthcare. So important, in fact, that lives literally depend on it.

Think of the countless individuals who enter hospitals and clinics every day looking for help. They include people from every race, creed, gender, and age—a melting pot of humanity. And to best communicate, understand, and treat those patients with the best care possible, it’s vital they see themselves within the healthcare workforce.

But what makes diversity in the healthcare industry so important? And how should the healthcare industry achieve that diversity.

In this article, we will attempt to answer some of these critical questions. Continue reading to learn more about the meaning of healthcare diversity, its benefits, and examples of its successful application in the real world.

What is Diversity in Healthcare?

A group of people looking at a laptop

Diversity in any workplace means having a workforce comprised of multiple races, ages, genders, ethnicities, and orientations. In other words, it refers to when the medical and administrative staff of a healthcare facility represents a wide range of experiences and background.

In modern society, healthcare diversity can refer to a number of qualities, including but not limited to the following characteristics:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Political beliefs
  • Education
  • Physical abilities and disabilities
  • Socioeconomic background
  • Language
  • Culture

Even military service is considered a unique background and experience that should be included in diversity.

Espousing diversity in healthcare can lead to cultural competency, the ability of healthcare providers to offer services that meet the unique social, cultural, and linguistic needs of their patients

In short, the better a patient is represented and understood, the better they can be treated.

Why is Healthcare Diversity So Important?

A group of people sitting at a table with a laptop

Diversity in the workplace carries a host of benefits for healthcare employers, their staff, and their patients. Those benefits include:

Higher Employee Morale

Diversity creates a stronger feeling of inclusion and community for healthcare workers, which makes the workplace feel safer and more enjoyable.

Better Care for Diverse Populations

A healthcare staff should be as diverse, if not more diverse, than the patient base they are treating. This helps ensure that no matter who walks through the door, there is someone on staff who can identify with them, communicate with them, and better serve their individual needs.

Higher Employee Retention

This goes hand-in-hand with improved morale. The happier and safer healthcare workers feel in the workplace, the longer they will stay.

Better Recruitment

A commitment to diversity helps when recruiting new healthcare workers and administrative staff. It allows you to cast a wider net to attracted new talent and it offers a stronger hiring proposition for candidates who may consider working at your hospital or clinic.

Stronger Individual Motivation

When there is a lack of diversity, minority healthcare workers may feel stifled or unable to express their unique talents and personality traits. This is a natural inclination for people when they are more concerned with fitting in as opposed to “being themselves.” That added pressure can lead to increased stress, reduced morale, and it may event inhibit them from speaking up when their perspective is needed most. A diverse work environment sends the message that a worker’s cultural and ethnic background is an advantage that should be respected, if not celebrated.

Better Problem Solving

A wide range of perspectives can lead to more creative solutions when solving problems during an emergency or even during routine patient-care. Allowing for new ideas and diverse perspectives can also lead to greater innovation and operational excellence.

Better Results

As illustrated by our section on healthcare diversity statistics (below), diverse healthcare teams get better results, period. The data show us that medical teams who embrace diversity provide better healthcare.

Final note on the benefits of healthcare diversity—

It’s worth mentioning that while diversity is important, diversity without inclusion is ineffective. Not only do healthcare teams need to represent a variety of backgrounds, but each member needs to be given a voice.

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