How Novant Health Strives to Incorporate Gender Diversity

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Tanya S. Blackmon
Tanya S. Blackmon, Novant Health, EVP & Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer

Novant Health has a compelling mission and vision: we exist to improve the health of our communities, one person at a time. Not just some communities, but all communities that we serve. Our vision is to deliver a remarkable patient experience – not just for some patients, but for all. Novant Health has committed to utilizing diversity, inclusion and equity as a strategic lever to achieve its strategic business imperatives.

We always remember that our business is the care of all people, starting with our team members. That’s why we created our people credo: “We are an inclusive team of purpose driven people inspired and united by our passion to care for each other, our patients and communities.”

One of the interesting facts about our healthcare organization is that 82% of our workforce is female – and 40% of the Novant Health C-suite is female.

In a survey of 1,000 respondents, the job site Glassdoor found that 67% of job seekers overall look at workforce diversity when evaluating an offer. Top female candidates, in particular, care about gender diverse work environments. A recent survey found that 61% of women look at the gender diversity of the employer’s leadership team when deciding where to work.

The takeaway here is that diversity matters. Representation matters. I am proud to work for an organization that values gender diversity.

While we have approached embedding diversity, inclusion and equity as a culture change strategy, there are programmatic components to the work.

Developing and mentoring leaders across various dimensions of diversity has been a priority for Novant Health. As an executive leader and one of four females in the C-suite, I have the unique opportunity to influence the creation of intentional programs that will help develop our team members.

One such program is the Leveraging Internal Female Talent (LIFT) program. This program was established to recognize, develop and mentor women within Novant Health to achieve the highest levels of leadership in the organization, industry and community.

Another example is our Women’s Business Resource Group (BRG). The BRG exists to engage individuals’ system-wide in collective learning and support while offering a sense of belonging. The BRG, which is open to all of our 30,000 team members, is given the opportunity to act as a sounding board and consultant to our Women’s Health leaders when it comes to developing and deciding on services for our female team members and consumers.

To ensure inclusion in a broader scale, coaches from the LIFT program have live streamed seminars for the Women’s BRG, giving them access to training material. This is one way information is getting to female team members who may not meet the criteria for the LIFT program but are still interested in learning and developing themselves in the workplace.

Both of these programs are in alignment with our people credo by ensuring that team members have an opportunity for career development.

Shifting the culture to embed diversity and inclusion is an intentional, long-term focus that requires accountability – and accountability starts at the top. I’m continuously impressed by our courageous leadership team for their creation of an environment where people can be open, curious and have real connections and compassion toward each other. Our team members can sense our culture shift. And it’s reaping significant benefits.

We started our path toward accountability with an inclusion goal in 2016. On our team member engagement survey we chose the question, “This organization values team members from different backgrounds.” In 2016, we ranked at the 69th percentile and ended the measuring period in 2019 in the 95th percentile.

The numbers are one measure of success, but the feeling of belonging and being valued is immeasurable. We are on a continuous journey to have a diverse workforce and an inclusive environment. Our vision for diversity, inclusion and equity is for all team members to apply this lens in decision-making and behaviors. The journey is long-term, but we are committed to it for the benefit of our patients, team members and our organization’s success.

Tanya Stewart Blackmon
Novant Health
EVP & Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer

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