Akron Children’s Hospital has been named to Forbes magazine’s Best Employers for Diversity 2020 list. The hospital was listed as 172 out of 500 national organizations recognized for their efforts to develop a diverse workforce.
Working with market research firm Statista, Forbes surveyed employees on their perceptions of their employer’s workforce diversity and inclusion, asking questions about age, gender equality, ethnicity, disability and LGBTQ+. The survey encompassed organizations employing at least 1,000 people from 24 industries, including utilities, insurance, automotive, education and health care.
“As health care providers, being inclusive of a diverse patient population is something we already do each day,” said Carole Becerra, director of diversity and inclusion. “We want our workforce to reflect that same diversity and for our employees to feel like they can be their authentic selves.”
Carole says Akron Children’s diversity is showcased in many ways.
“We are one of the few organizations in Summit County that has a female CEO,” she said. “As a matter of fact, 85% of our workforce is female.”
She says the hospital is also intentional about the programs it engages in and partners with.
“We are deliberate about engaging our employees and community through programs like Career Launch, our new workforce development program for allied health professions,” she said. “This program is designed to provide current employees and community members with educational opportunities to start or advance their careers. We want people to know there are other pathways to working in health care without becoming a nurse or doctor.”
In 2019 the hospital received an award for its efforts at promoting diversity in its nursing workforce. The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) awarded Akron Children’s with the AONE Prism Diversity Award which recognizes an individual or organization that has advanced diversity efforts within the nursing profession, the community or organization.
“The hospital created its Assuring Success with a Commitment to Enhance Nurse Diversity (ASCEND) program 5 years ago to help our nursing staff better reflect the communities we serve,” said Carole. “Students in the ASCEND program must be from a minority group, male or first-generation college student — all of which are underrepresented groups in nursing.”
The hospital also values the benefits and experience a multigenerational workplace offers.
“Our multigenerational workforce allows for collaboration and engagement among people of different ages and it spans beyond just our employees,” Carole said. “Through our volunteer department we have 6 generations of volunteers who range in age from 15 ½ to 95. Our Viking Scholars, high school students who are part of the Akron Children’s Academy of Health and Human Services at North High School, participate in an 8-week summer internship program at the hospital.”
Carole says it’s important employees feel valued and supported and can come to work as their authentic selves – including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.
“During Pride month the hospital distributed over 1,700 ‘Pride’ pins to our employees,” she said. “Employees wear the pins on their ID badges because we want to express our inclusivity all the time and we want people to feel free to be who they are.”
A new initiative called Ask Every Patient Real, a joint effort between the Epic team, quality services and patient experience, seeks to increase the collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference in order to provide culturally competent and equitable care.
Akron Children’s most recent employee engagement survey supported the results of the Forbes study.
“This is an independent award that we didn’t seek out, which makes it all the more special,” Carole said. “Our annual survey, which measures employee perceptions of diversity and inclusion, showed that our employees feel a sense of belonging is high in our institution.”