In 2018, our Human Resources team laid the foundation for our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) journey through an assessment of the diversity of our workforce and the ways in which Memorial Hermann could further our commitment to diversity. The team made significant progress, which led to the launch of our formal, comprehensive, and ever-expanding EDI program that is core to our mission, vision and values in 2020. By being intentional and strategic in our efforts, we are dedicated to taking an active role in addressing structural barriers and encouraging acceptance, authenticity and inclusion within our organization and across Greater Houston.
With the beginning of a new calendar year, Memorial Hermann achieved two milestones that would prove crucial to the future of our EDI journey. First, we completed a 12-month effort to assess our current state and inform strategic planning priorities. After hours of document and process review and 15 focus groups with nearly 160 employee and physician participants, we identified key focus areas that informed our strategic planning.
Our second milestone in early 2022 was the appointment of Dr. Toi Harris as Memorial Hermann’s inaugural Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Dr. Harris brings a unique perspective to the role of Chief EDI Officer – that of an EDI expert and a clinical practitioner. She has been a practicing psychiatrist since 1997 and remains board certified in psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. Her visionary work and contributions in health equity is one of the many reasons she was named one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers by the National Diversity Council in 2021 and 2022.
In February 2022, the newly formed Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion partnered with Memorial Hermann’s Supply Chain division to establish a Supplier Diversity Program Manager position. In support of our Anchor Network commitment, the Supplier Diversity program will focus on increasing the opportunities for local, diverse-owned companies to do business with Memorial Hermann. By June 2022, a five-phase plan extending through FY24 was approved to officially launch our journey to becoming a world-class supplier diversity leader.
In response to what we learned from the assessment by the external consultant, the Office of EDI partnered with the EDI Employer Council to launch inclusive leadership training for all Memorial Hermann leaders in April 2022. This effort will continue through the end of 2022 until the nearly 1,700 leaders across our System have completed the training and learned strategies for being an inclusive leader.
The EDI Health System Council also launched an internal and external campaign in recognition of Black Maternal Health Week to help raise awareness about health inequities that greatly impact Black and African-American mothers and infants. The Health System Council also led efforts to add a “preferred language for health care information” field to Memorial Hermann’s electronic medical records system and deployed a caption calling device pilot project.
The EDI Employer Council finalized the framework for the launch of Memorial Hermann’s first Employee Resource Groups in July 2022, and we added four “microlearnings” (courses that take approximately 20 minutes to complete) to Memorial Hermann’s internal learning management system. These courses were focused on key EDI topics, including inclusive language and creating psychological safety at work, and were selected based on best practices and feedback from Memorial Hermann employees. In addition, EDI Champions were engaged to plan for FY23 EDI observances.
In 2022, Memorial Hermann was honored with the Houston Business Journal’s Diversity in Business Outstanding Diverse Organization award in the large company category. Additionally, Noel Cárdenas, SVP and CEO of Memorial Hermann Pearland and Southeast Hospitals, was recognized as the 2022 National Latino Leader by the Council for Latino Workplace Equity.
Memorial Hermann became the first health care system in Houston to be a signatory sponsor of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Racial Equality Principles. We also provided training for EDI Council Members and Champions, began participating in the TMC Diversity and Inclusion Collaboration and selected external consultants to assist with the creation of a long-term EDI strategy.
In 2021, we also recruited an EDI program director, whose leadership brought the work of our EDI Councils into alignment with our strategic business priorities, guided the development of our supplier diversity program, spearheaded the launch of our employee resource groups and began developing our educational framework.
We engaged in a comprehensive effort to expand our recognition of cultural observances and nationally recognized diversity months. As a result of these efforts throughout 2021, Memorial Hermann distributed a wide range of education-based articles, covering topics ranging from Hispanic and Latino/a historical milestones to understanding LGBTQIA+ terminology. In 2021, there were more than 320 posts dedicated to EDI on our internal communications platform.
Additionally, each diversity month celebrated in 2021 featured a virtual panel hosted by Dr. David Callender, Memorial Hermann’s President and CEO. During these panels, available for live streaming and recorded for later viewing, Dr. Callender was joined by Memorial Hermann leaders and experts from the community in a candid discussion while answering questions from employees related to that month’s theme.
One of our most popular activities during our diversity month celebrations was our weekly #FridayFeature story, in which an employee shared his or her personal story and unique experience as it relates to their heritage, faith, family and traditions. Memorial Hermann shared many of these stories on our social media platforms to promote these efforts throughout the community.
In October 2021, Memorial Hermann announced that it would join the Healthcare Anchor Network, a nationally recognized collaboration of more than 70 health systems that are committed to leveraging their assets as businesses to improve the economic strength of the community, through employment, purchasing and impact investing. The Anchor model is built upon the understanding that sustainable community health can only be achieved by meeting essential needs.
In December, the EDI Community Council, in partnership with Memorial Hermann’s Community Benefit Corporation, hosted a holiday bike ride and toy drive in Houston’s Acres Homes, a historically divested community. The event highlighted the importance of regular physical exercise in overall health and well-being while brightening the holidays by distributing nearly 300 toys to more than 100 families.
In 2021, the Federation of Houston Professional Women awarded Memorial Hermann the inaugural Sheri L. Parrack Diversity Excellence Award for our ongoing efforts promoting diversity, inclusion and equity. Memorial Hermann was also recognized by Vizient as a top performer for Supplier Diversity Excellence in 2021. The top performer designation distinguishes community hospital members that best champion inclusion in their supply chain and accelerate economic growth in their local community through the engagement, empowerment and utilization of minority, women and veteran-owned business enterprises.
We launched a Leadership Listening Tour on Race, Diversity and Inclusion, which was comprised of 33 sessions with more than 250 employees. During these conversations, we learned three critical lessons that were used to shape the future of our efforts.
From there, we created our EDI program. Within our first year, we had measurable success through the creation of our EDI Councils – the EDI Executive and Leadership Councils provide advocacy and oversight to the EDI Community, Employer and Health System Councils. We also launched EDI resource pages on our intranet and internal communications platform and began recognizing faith-based holidays in our communications to our workforce. In addition, we created an “Introduction to EDI” module in our continuing education programming for all employees.