Home Crossborder Healthcare Diversity and inclusion in healthcare cannot be left to chance

Diversity and inclusion in healthcare cannot be left to chance

Corporate culture does not—or at least, should not—happen by accident. It should be rooted in your mission and cultivated in each and every employee. Culture is deliberate. We define it. We live it. And we are all equally responsible for it. At Cleveland Clinic, our culture has long been one of inclusion—for our patients, for our communities and for our 66,000 caregivers worldwide. We firmly believe that our diversity is our strength. We do not tolerate discrimination in race, religion, nationality, culture, age, sexual orientation and identity, or veteran status. Simply put, diversity of caregivers allows better care of diverse patient populations.

However, diversity in representation is just part of the equation. That only addresses demographics. However, when there is an inclusion imperative, caregivers have a sense of purpose and belonging. Add to that cultural competence—which is responding appropriately to people of varying backgrounds, in a way that recognizes differences and allows individuals to feel respected and valued—and you have a well-formed ecosystem designed to serve all equally and with respect.

As a healthcare system with national and global reach, Cleveland Clinic serves and hires people from all walks of life. I myself am a native Croatian, with stops along the way in Zurich, Boston, Abu Dhabi and Cleveland. To say that the cultures were different from one location to the next is an understatement. Success, though, demands an understanding and appreciation of each culture.

These are not just platitudes. We walk the talk. Every day. Around the world.

We may fall short from time to time, as almost all organizations will, but it’s not for lack of trying. Each stumble offers another opportunity to improve. Shaping culture is never finished. It’s an ever-evolving effort.

To that end, two recent initiatives illustrate how we continue to do better.

In my annual State of the Clinic message, I announced a goal that by 2024 we will have leadership that fully reflects the diversity of those they lead.

In addition, we recently signed on to support the mission of Time’s Up Healthcare, pledging that sexual harassment and gender inequity have no place in the healthcare workplace; that every employee should have equitable opportunity, support and compensation; and

that we will continue to strengthen our efforts as we work toward the goal of a safe, respectful and equitable workplace.

Whatever the initiative may be, it requires a focused, concerted effort from everyone within the organization. We achieve this by integrating best practices of diversity, inclusion, equity and cultural competence into all that we do—including expanding access to quality healthcare services and improving policies, procedures and hiring of caregivers to reflect the diversity of those we serve.

Cleveland Clinic’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion provides strategic support for creating an inclusive culture, through education, recruitment, employee development, and collaborations on diversity-related initiatives. Some may view diversity and inclusion as wise business practices. And I suppose it is. Ultimately, though, it’s simply the right thing to do.

Patients have more choice than ever before, and it’s imperative that we understand their needs in order to improve patient outcomes, engagement, retention and conversion. Our goal is to provide relationship-centered care for both our caregivers and our patients—a lifelong relationship centered on health, wellness and each patient’s individual needs.


Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Dr. Tom Mihaljevic