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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Cultural Crossroads

February 24th, 2021

I know many of us have been involved in discussions throughout Michigan Medicine about our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, from the subgroups working within our Anti-Racism Oversight Committee (AROC), to our team members at the Office for Health Equity & Inclusion (OHEI), and so many others passionate about advancing this work. I’ve also seen many articles and research papers, across various industries, about how to make organizational DEI efforts meaningful and sustainable.

From what I’ve learned, it all comes down to the type of culture that we foster and maintain, and what we consider to be the pillars of that culture. For organizations that are successful in creating diverse and inclusive climates, some common themes emerge as fundamental. Four key elements seem to be at the crux of their cultures.

1. A Value-Driven Mission

We can’t face and eradicate something as negative and divisive as racial injustice and health inequities without a strong mission, vision and values (MVV) that are grounded in caring for our patients and each other. We’ve recently updated our MVV, and have added Inclusion as a core value with this definition: to foster an environment where every individual has a sense of belonging, a voice that is heard and the opportunity to achieve and thrive.

This spirit of inclusion creates a sense of belonging, and helps us come together as a community to support each other and bring our best work to our patients and colleagues every day.

2. Established Infrastructure 

In recent years, many organizations have scrambled to develop a defined DEI program and presence. But here, we have a solid foundation that we continue to build upon. More than 5 years ago, President Schlissel launched a campus-wide DEI initiative that has grown and brought new programs, awareness and resources to our academic community. As part of that initiative, we have built a similar infrastructure for Michigan Medicine, through our own OHEI as well as partnerships with U-M’s Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance. We have created the education and resources that support our unique health care, research and education missions.

We still have much room to grow, but we have a clear path and a strong foundation to continue to drive this work deep into the organization.

3. Planned Accountability

Knowing our mission and having the tools in place to achieve it are a great start, but holding us accountable to results is critical to success. We have some mechanisms in place, such as data reporting and an OHEI dashboard, that reflect our progress and forward movement. With the future work planned through AROC, we will be developing additional dashboards that reflect outcomes against specific goals and action plans.

Constant feedback and reflection will be ongoing as we know continuous improvement never ends.

4. Shared Commitment

Most importantly, we cannot leave this work to the OHEI team, the AROC subgroups or the top leaders of this organizations. To achieve substantial DEI progress, and remove the barriers presented by systemic racism, it will take all of our combined efforts.

We have committed to battling racism and discrimination, and we need everyone in the Michigan Medicine community to join this fight.   

Changing our culture and our climate in a lasting way won’t come easily. It requires listening to our team members, standing up for those who speak up, and refusing to tolerate any retribution or retaliation tactics. We need to raise awareness that privilege exists, micro-aggressions are real and that change can only happen when we all hold ourselves and each other accountable. 

As members of a great academic medical center, let’s come together to improve our workplace climate and cultural sensitivity.

For more information, see the DEI resources on the leadership website. AROC updates will also be shared here.

Do you have some DEI suggestions or resources you wish to share? Provide them in the discussion box below.

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