By: Marc H. Gorelick, MD, MSCE, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Minnesota
Today, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – and the incredible contributions he made to advance civil rights, equality and justice for everyone. Dr. King wanted all people in this country to feel valued, respected and supported no matter where they lived, worked, went to school or did business. And when I think about all the work we are doing around diversity, equity and inclusion at Children’s Minnesota, these are the very things we are working so hard to achieve.
We all know that Dr. King’s journey wasn’t easy – and he paid the ultimate price. It won’t be an easy road for Children’s, either, as diversity, equity and inclusion efforts involve ongoing commitment from each and every one of us – and often discomfort. As Dr. King said in a 1961 speech titled, The Future of Integration, at New York University, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable … Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
If we are going to be every family’s essential partner in raising healthier children, we have a shared obligation of making our hospitals and clinics more diverse and inclusive of all people. Sometimes, that it is going to require us to think differently, step outside of our comfort zones, sacrifice our own privilege and have tough conversations to give everyone what they need to thrive. Having a diverse and inclusive culture also has many benefits for our organization, including deeper patient satisfaction, fewer health disparities and a more engaging place to work.
I’m heartened by the tremendous amount our organization has achieved in the past year. Along with hiring our first chief equity and inclusion officer, James Burroughs, we’ve also:
- Created our first Equity and Inclusion Internship Program.
- Strengthened our Respect and Dignity reporting platform.
- Added new employee resource groups.
- Developed a supplier diversity strategy.
- Created metrics to measure our hiring and retention of diverse employees.
We are also building strong relationships with the diverse communities we serve – kicking off our first series of “Bridging Walks” in Minneapolis in 2019 in an effort to connect with businesses and neighborhoods near Children’s Minneapolis campus. We have plans to expand those walks to St. Paul in 2020, as well as implement implicit bias training to our leadership team.
In the end, we all succeed when we intentionally lift all boats. In a 1965 commencement speech to Oberlin College, Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” In that spirit, I’m challenging all of you to look within yourselves and ask what you personally can do to advance equity and inclusion for all who engage with us. We know there are striking disparities and inequities that persist among the diverse patients and families we serve – let’s do our part to close the gaps.
Thank you so much for joining me today in honoring Dr. King and all he has done for mankind.