By Steve Blanchard
Timing, as they say, is everything.
So it made sense to Cathy Grant, Moffitt Cancer Center’s senior director of Diversity, that the cancer center hosted the Florida Diversity Council’s annual Florida Healthcare Diversity Summit in July.
“Moffitt is very focused on inclusion,” Grant told those in attendance. “It’s a part of our company values and it sets us apart from other cancer centers. So it makes sense that we once again host this amazing event.”
Moffitt hosted the inaugural summit in 2012, and this year’s eighth annual event focused on diversity and inclusion in the health care workplace.
Keynote speaker Rhonda Mims, executive vice president and chief public affairs officer at WellCare Health Plans, wanted those in attendance to take at least one key point away from the event.
“Fairness and equity levels the playing field,” Mims shared with the audience. “Your silence will not protect you and we have to provide a voice for everyone. It’s good business.”
Mims pointed to the inaccuracies in representation displayed on many hospital boards across the state. She shared that even though 80% of hospital employees are women, only 19% of hospitals are run by them.
“And about 30% of U.S. patients are minorities,” Mims said. “But only 14% of hospital boards and 17% of hospital management are held by ethnically diverse employees. That’s a change we have to achieve. The goal is finding the appropriate representation.”
When asked why the term “inclusion” has seemingly replaced the phrase “affirmative action,” Mims didn’t hesitate to respond. “Affirmative action is more targeted and less inclusive to some and can be seen as though the ethnically diverse gets an advantage,” she explained. “Inclusion focuses on hiring the best people — hiring the best people regardless of their ethnic or racial background.”
Following Mims’ keynote, a panel of experts took to the stage to share their experiences with diversity in the workplace. Dr. Haywood Brown, vice president for institutional equity at the University of South Florida, Nancy Rudella, senior vice president of human resources for Jackson Healthcare in Orlando, and Dr. Desiree Chachula, Diversity and Inclusion manager at Moffitt, each tackled different areas of diversity, ranging from ethnic and minority populations in the workplace and patient care to LGBTQ issues facing growing hospitals.
The panel ended with a question-and-answer session with the audience.