“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1966

Nearly 300 individuals from across Partners HealthCare gathered May 10 for the first Diversity and Inclusion Summit, aimed at building and strengthening relationships across the institutions to help support and align the vision and goals of the entire system. The daylong “Many Perspectives, One Community” conference featured guest speakers, engaging discussions among participants, and remarks from senior leadership.

“There are 270 of us here in terms of perspectives – but we are one community,” said Dani Monroe, chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Partners. “We can become a stronger community as we begin to build a common language around diversity and inclusion efforts and as we work to create a vision statement and one goal for the organization to focus on. We must keep this conversation moving forward to support a continued diversity dialogue.”

During the session, David F. Torchiana, MD, president and CEO of Partners, commended the event’s organizers and said the summit marked a milestone for Partners. “This is one of our first steps to acknowledge the interconnectedness of patient care, organizational structure, workforce dynamics, and diversity and inclusion,” he said.

Joe Cabral, chief Human Resources Officer for Partners, encouraged attendees to share their hospital’s successes and struggles during discussions about diversity and inclusion efforts. “I want you to challenge yourselves and challenge others,” he said. “I want you to bring your whole self to the table and to bring your whole self to work every day.”

Damon Tweedy, MD, associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, spoke about his personal reflections on growing up in a segregated neighborhood in Maryland, his experiences on the path to becoming a physician and the contrast between the black patient and black medical provider populations, both regionally and nationwide. Tweedy also shared excerpts from his memoir, “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine.”

Sukhvinder S. Obhi, PhD, associate professor at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, delved intothe topic of power in diverse social contexts, highlighted the importance of building and strengthening community, and outlined the importance of recognizing individual unconscious biases. “Implicit biases can’t be changed,” he said. “They happen despite our best intentions. We need to be aware and engaged and be mindful of how biases may be affecting our thoughts and behaviors.”

The summit also featured David H. Jackson, PhD, a partner at Mercer, who summarized trends in hiring, promoting and retaining diverse employees and how companies can more effectively examine, address and increase opportunities for these staff members in order to enhance innovation and growth overall.

“Our organization can only move forward – and get better – if it has new ideas and is open to listening to those ideas,” said Peter Markell, Partners executive vice president of Administration and Finance, CFO and Treasurer. “Tapping into our entire community will help with those ideas, and it will drive success in the future.” 

Read more articles from the 05/26/17 Hotline issue.