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We’ve all heard myriad reasons for developing and sustaining a diverse workforce: it’s better for serving a diverse patient base, it fosters a better work environment, it’s the “right thing to do,” etc., etc. But do those reasons truly resonate with senior executives – those who have the power to affect change? Sometimes they do. However, those reasons alone will not always suffice. In many instances, a business case must be demonstrated.

Many studies have been done to support the theory that a business case for diversity exists. One interesting and compelling study is “Delivering through Diversity” by McKinsey & Co., published in January, 2018.

A review of this report by the Healthcare Financial Management Association in April 2018, titled “How Diversity in Executive Teams Contributes to Financial Success,” discussed some of the work that organizations are doing to impact diversity and inclusion, and the very real results they are seeing. One participating leader, Dr. Larry Goodman (CEO of Rush University Medical Center), has heavily invested in diversity and inclusion and has already seen the ROI. Broadening the field of candidates for job openings and promotions has increased the likelihood that his organization obtains the best talent available. It has also increased employee engagement.

Some key take-aways from the report that demonstrate the business case for diversity include:

  • Organizations with high levels of diversity and inclusion perform better on key business metrics
  • Companies were 33% more likely to lead their industries in profitability if their executive teams were in the top 25% for cultural and ethnic diversity
  • Companies were 29% less likely to achieve above-average profitability than all other companies studied if their executive teams were in the bottom 25% for both gender and ethnic/cultural diversity

Because healthcare is a very evidence-based industry, the more studies that tie a diverse workforce to improved business performance, the more effectively we’ll be able to make the business case for investing in, developing, and sustaining a diverse workforce. The better we do this, the better chance we have of seeing significant changes and, ultimately, improving outcomes for all patients.


Mike Watkins is Exeter’s Director of Client Engagement, bringing more than 20 years of experience to our client relationships. His background includes client-facing roles across a range of industries, each requiring the willingness to thoroughly understand client’s needs, and the ability to provide the right solution to address them.