Cone Health planning mentorship program to improve diversity

Piedmont Triad News

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Cone Health is increasing its commitment to ensuring its staff looks like the community it serves.

The health system wants to improve that visibility, especially among minority men.

Approximately 27% of Cone Health’s leadership positions from supervisor to the CEO level are held by men of color.

“Which is not bad at all; however, we want to make sure that we’re paying attention to that and being intentional about that because our goal is to have a balanced organization,” Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Kiva Elliott said.

Elliott is part of the team developing a mentoring program for men of color who work at Cone Health in a variety of leadership roles including in non-clinical departments such as supply chain management, finance, and human resources.

“Looking at where they are, their promotion rates, all of those things and just looking at the data and saying, ‘What more could we do, and why are we not progressing in that area?’”

The goal of the mentoring program is to retain diverse talent.

Meanwhile, Vice President of Clinical Care for Health Equity Dr. Alvin Powell is putting his efforts toward recruitment.

“There were about 545 African American men entering medical school my year, and 36 years later, I think there are about 515 entering medical school. It dropped significantly,” Powell said.

One recruitment strategy includes allowing prospective employees to meet with someone of a specific background during the interview process.

The expectation is that this will help candidates feel welcomed within the health system’s culture.

Leaders say improving diversity will ultimately have a positive impact on patients.

“Cultural competence, cultural humility, recognizing and understanding someone’s perspective and their lens and where they come from and how they think about health care in the history of and the legacy of mistrust, all of those things are important,” Powell said.

There’s no set timeline for when the mentoring program will start because it’s still in the planning phase.

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