What is TGH’s commitment to diversity in the workplace?

BY Chris A. Roederer, Senior VP, Human Resources

ST. PETERSBURG – Tampa General Hospital (TGH) is an equal opportunity employer and educator.  We have a recruitment strategy that stresses the need for diversification.

TGH select candidates who are most qualified, regardless of race, color, creed, religion or sexual orientation.  Our Human Resource and Nurse Recruitment division publish job vacancies in a variety of ways to attract a diversified talent pool for all positions. Some of those publishing vehicles include the TGH careers website, CareerBuilder, Monster and LinkedIn.

Recruitment also has 22 identified minority business enterprise partnerships that are utilized for recruitment purposes.

TGH has a Cultural Diversity Committee that offers cultural diversity classes and has established a quarterly award for the employee that best exemplifies the spirit of diversity at TGH.

How do you manage diversity? 

TGH conducts cultural diversity programs organized by Pastoral Care and the Cultural Diversity Committee.  These programs educate caregivers about the various religious, ethnic and cultural populations of both patients and caregivers and how to be culturally sensitive to their needs.

TGH encourages open communication and teamwork.  Employees are encouraged to work together to solve problems.  Our leaders are held accountable for managing behavior related to cultural sensitivity and conflict management.

What are TGH’s guiding principles in regard to diversity?

Our core values, stress the need for respect, caring, courtesy, dignity, and a sense of fairness to everyone.  This includes patients, families, visitors, employees, trainees, students, volunteers and healthcare professionals. It applies without regard to gender, race, age, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, and religion.

How is diversity incorporated in TGH’s organizational structure?

TGH is a cultural melting pot with 7,000 employees who represent the entire cultural and socio-economic spectrum.  Our more than 1,000 physicians also reflect a cross-section of cultural diversity. In terms of our business operation, TGH’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program provides business opportunities to certified minority-owned businesses, and reports its progress to Hillsborough County four times a year.  A minority business is 51 percent owned and controlled by an ethnic minority or woman.

Anything else you want our readers to know about your company?

In September, for the third consecutive time, TGH received Magnet designation for excellence in nursing. We have been Magnet-recognized since 2005. The Magnet designation recognizes hospitals that demonstrate excellence in nursing philosophy and practices, and adherence to national standards for improving patient care, leadership and sensitivity to cultural and ethnic diversity.  It is the highest designation for quality nursing care, presented by the world’s largest and most prestigious nurse credentialing organization, The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

How has your experience and background prepared you to be effective in this environment with this diversity value/initiative?

I’ve served in a Human Resources leadership role for nearly 34 years, striving to ensure that minorities, those with diverse backgrounds and cultures are treated equitably and work in a positive work environment, free of bias and discrimination.  But my support of cultural inclusion extends beyond my work life.  I serve on the Corporate Board and Executive Committee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay.  The Clubs provide a safe and positive environment for kids ages 5-18, many of whom reside in underserved communities.  It’s not just experience; it’s a passion.

What do you see as the most challenging aspect of a diverse working environment? What steps have you taken to meet this challenge?

Whenever people from different backgrounds, genders, races and religions come together, there is potential for great accomplishments through collaboration and the celebration of diversity.

The most challenging aspect of working in a culturally diverse environment is the propensity for miscommunication to occur over fairly innocuous subjects.  To overcome this challenge, TGH has established a Cultural Diversity Committee to recognize and celebrate our diversity and provide educational opportunities relating to diversity.  We provide interfaith services.  We conducted an employee engagement survey to obtain feedback and equipped all employees with the tools needed to establish trust and enable effective communication in a diverse population.

What kinds of experiences have you had working with others with different backgrounds than your own?

I did not grow up in an environment of diversity.  My exposure to diversity began with my professional career in healthcare as a human resources leader.  It created opportunities to engage with a very diverse employee population, including, but not limited to, gender, race, religion, age, color, disability, sexual orientation, job knowledge and ability, and a broad spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds.

One must be able to genuinely adapt, engage, respect and appreciate everyone’s role and contribution.  Outside of my professional role, the opportunity to serve the Tampa Bay community as a Boys and Girls Clubs board member has also enhanced my commitment to work with others with different backgrounds.

How have you handled a situation when a colleague was not accepting of others’ diversity?

Depending upon the circumstances, employees are trained, coached, disciplined and/or discharged for harassment or other inappropriate conduct reflecting a lack of tolerance.

What does it mean to have a commitment to diversity?

TGH believes that the fair and equitable treatment of our healthcare partners, patients, staff, and visitors is critical to fulfilling its mission and goals.  We treat all patients with respect and dignity.  No distinctions are made in the admission, transfer or discharge of patients, or in the care provided, based on diverse characteristics or cultural backgrounds.  It is the policy of TGH to recruit, hire, train, promote, assign, transfer, layoff, recall and terminate employees, based on their own ability, achievement, experience and conduct.

This is done without regard to age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, disability, or any other classification prohibited by law.  No form of harassment or discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, disability, or any other classification prohibited by law, is tolerated.

What strategies has TGH used to address diversity challenges? What were the positives and negatives?

Education is our primary strategy.  We have two online learning classes that explore the advantages of a diverse workforce.  TGH is about to roll out cultural sensitivity training for all leadership staff to facilitate better communication and promote tolerance.

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