In October 2020, Englewood Health formed their Diversity, Inclusion, and Education Council (DIEC). In June 2021, we wanted to follow up on where the DIEC is now and what they’ve accomplished thus far. Director of Talent Acquisition, Organizational Development, and Diversity Eva Matos-Botex, who is also leader of the DIEC, answered our questions.
The Positive Community (TPC) Why now? What prompted the creation of the diversity council last October?
EMB: As a healthcare leader, we wanted to take a more focused approach to addressing health disparities and social inequities. The Diversity and Inclusion Education Council was developed out of this commitment to doing more and doing better for the communities we serve.
TPC: The council has been in place for more than six months now; what disparities or policies have they identified thus far that need to be changed, updated, or improved?
EMB: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Englewood Health has seen how the virus disproportionately impacts communities of color. Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. As such, council members have pledged to serve as ambassadors and support ongoing COVID-19 prevention and vaccination initiatives at the hospital and in the community. Recently, the council helped to staff a community vaccination event organized by Englewood Health that targeted medically underserved populations in the community. The weekend event served those most in need of assistance, and we made sure that potential barriers — access to technology; language hurdles; and economic, insurance, or immigration statuses — would not prevent those in the community who wanted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from getting it.
TPC: Have employee orientations begun yet? What sort of training and/or discussions does the orientation entail?
EMB: Englewood Health has refreshed and enhanced orientation programs and training activities for incoming staff, current team members and leaders that focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and unconscious bias. Our Human Resources team launched a new learning and training application to create a more dynamic and engaging educational experience for employees. These include videos and interactive features that highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in our workplace and for the communities we serve.
TPC: Have any existing programs been expanded or new programs implemented? If so, which ones?
EMB: Englewood Health expanded on current programming by launching Understanding Unconscious Biases, a self-paced eLearning program. The curriculum takes a closer look at the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion, cultural competency, and unconscious biases. The program emphasizes that biases can affect how healthcare professionals perform their jobs, ultimately impacting patient care. Team members are empowered to recognize and address these biases so they can reduce their impact, fostering more open, productive, and respectful communication among team members.
TPC: What has the reaction to the establishment of the diversity council been from council members and employees in general?
EMB: The council includes representation from all areas of Englewood Health including clinicians, support staff, and administration. Each member of the 12-person council played a role in developing its charter, goals and objectives, and actionable efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace and to reduce healthcare disparities in our community. Englewood Health has a long-standing culture of continuous improvement, both individually and collectively. Our physicians, staff, Board of Trustees, and volunteers have embraced the opportunity to strive toward living the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, cultural competence, and reducing unconscious bias. Our primary goal is to work together to provide high quality, patientcentered care for the communities we serve.
TPC: Have you seen or do you expect to see other healthcare and medical providers establishing diversity councils so it will become the norm?
EMB: In February 2021, Warren Geller, president and CEO of Englewood Health, joined over 1,600 CEOs from across the country who signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, committing to encourage diversity and inclusion within the workplace. Englewood Health was the first health care system in New Jersey to sign the pledge. As a leader and model for other health care organizations throughout the state and country, we encourage our fellow health care leaders to focus on the public health crisis that is racism. Together, we can make an impact on systemic health and social inequalities and improve the health and lives of people throughout our entire community.