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George Halvorson

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Celebrating Being in a Diversity League of Our Own

Posted: 05/26/2012 6:10 pm

The following post is being republished from a weekly Letter to the Employees of Kaiser Permanente.


Dear KP Colleagues,

One of our great strengths at Kaiser Permanente is our diversity.

We have a wonderful level of diversity among our caregivers and staff, and we have a wonderful level of diversity among our patients and members.

Our Board is diverse, our leadership is diverse, and our total array of caregivers is diverse enough that we don't have a majority group at Kaiser Permanente that makes up over half of our staff.

With the most diverse staff of any major health care organization, we perform at very high levels.

Medicare used 53 criteria to rate 459 health plans last year and gave their top plans five stars. Only nine health plans in the entire country were rated at five stars. Five of our regions rated the top level of five stars, and our lowest score in the other three regions was 4.5 stars.

We were also awarded the J.D. Power and Associates number one ranking for member satisfaction in our five largest Regions -- and we have more than 20 HEDIS quality scores where the best score in the country is Kaiser Permanente.

So we are performing at high levels, and we are delivering care as teams in ways that save lives and set standards for others in health care.

My own strong opinion is that our diversity gives us the sensitivity and the connectivity that we need to serve our members respectfully and well.

Our commitment to our members and our patients, and our commitment to function in teams gives us performance levels that are what our members deserve because they entrust us with their care. That is a sacred trust, and one we appreciate.

So we do well when outside organizations rate us on quality and care. We also do well when outside organizations rate us relative to our diversity.

How well have we done?

We were rated number one in the country last year by DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity as a best employer for diversity.

ComputerWorld magazine rated us the best place to work in the country for diverse IT employees. The people who give out the Catalyst Award as the best place to work for women gave us their first place award last year.

We have been recognized by the Hispanic College Fund as Company of the Year, and the National Hispanic Corporate Council will be honoring us at their annual meeting this year.

For the last two years, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) advocacy group in the United States, recognized Kaiser Permanente for our fully inclusive, non-discrimination policy. We were named the first health and hospital system in the U.S. to earn a perfect rating, 100 percent, on the HRC's Health Equality Index. That means we were ranked the best health care system for LGBT.

Last year, Kaiser Permanente received a 90 percent rating on the HRC's annual Corporate Equality Index (Best place to work, for LGBT) for creating policies on diversity and inclusion, and providing training and benefits to create a fair and equal workplace.

One of my favorite awards comes from the Diversity MBA Magazine.

They rated us best employer in the country for diverse MBAs three years ago. Then they rated us again as number one as best employer in the country two years ago.

Last year, they rated us number one again.

It is a lovely thing for us to win first place three times in a row. That's good for us. But in an interesting way, it isn't quite as good for Diversity MBA Magazine to have the same winner year after year.

They throw a great banquet in Chicago every year for the winner.

They have a wide range of supportive organizations and diversity champions from across the country at the banquet. As the winner for the year, we are heavily featured at that dinner. We get to tell our story.

The attendees at the dinner were delighted and informed to hear our story the first year we won. They were reinforced and pleased to hear our story again the second year we won. They were -- to be frank -- slightly less excited to hear our story again for year three -- even though we sent in a new team of very good presenters.

The winner each year goes on the cover of the magazine. Putting us on the cover three straight years probably didn't increase subscriptions.

Clearly, Diversity MBA Magazine had a problem.

So what did they do?

They came up with a lovely solution. They put us in a league of our own. They invented a new category of winner -- Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Winner -- and they made us the first organization to go into the Diversity MBA Magazine Hall of Fame. Three-time winners go into the Hall of Fame.

It's not unlike what happens in Europe for the winner of the Champions League each year in soccer. The winner of the Champions League each year gets promoted to the Premier League. That winning team then plays in the higher league the following year.

Diversity MBA Magazine promoted us to the Diversity Premier League, and they put us in the Hall of Fame. They still gave us a very nice recognition at the annual dinner, but they now get to name someone else as the annual winner, and the audience of the dinner now gets to hear how another organization champions diversity.

So that's what I am celebrating this week. I am celebrating being -- for this one area of our performance -- in a league of our own. Very cool.

Diversity is one of our greatest strengths and assets. We are far from perfect, and we will never get all of the issues right -- but we are moving in some very good directions, and it is good to see those directions recognized.

Be well.

George

 
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