“Throughout Kaiser Permanente's 75-plus-year history, equity, inclusion, and diversity have been inextricably linked to our mission. We know that having a diverse and inclusive workforce reflective of the communities we serve makes Kaiser Permanente a better place to receive health care, a better partner in our communities, and a better place to work.”
Kaiser Permanente is one of the very few companies in the world that has diversity, equity, and inclusion as the cornerstone of what they do. They provide high-quality healthcare with equal access to everyone regardless of their race, color, religion, or gender. They also have a proven history of addressing inequities, challenging structural racism, and questioning injustices marginalizing the vulnerable population.
Today, we discuss how Kaiser Permanente became one of the best companies in the world by working on diversity, equity, and inclusion year after year:
THE HISTORY OF LEADERSHIP
One of the best things about Kaiser Permanente is their strong leadership history honoring talent regardless of where they come from. The company began in the shipyards where men and women of all backgrounds worked together, and while they have grown today, they are still true to their foundation. They took the initiative of providing equal access to healthcare to both men and women from diverse races, religions, and cultures in 1940 and they still follow this rule even in their executive leadership.
The boards are 38% women and 38% people of color. The nine-member board has three women, three Blacks, two Latinos, and two Asians. In 2020, 53% of the CEO’s direct reports were women, and nearly 43% of the executive medical directors were women. What’s more is that almost 67% of the organization’s total workforce are members of racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities, and 75% are women. The diversity by gender, race, and ethnicity is increasing exponentially every year. In the last year alone , the company managed to increase women in senior leadership roles from 24 to 33 percent.
CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE AND EQUITABLE HEALTHCARE
Kaiser Permanente is always researching ways to make healthcare access equitable for all. This manifests in the ways through which they deliver care to even the way they design their buildings and conduct research. They have a call center staff accessible for people speaking more than 140 languages, and different medical facilities centered on the needs of different communities. Moreover, they ensure that they target disparities in healthcare in different communities broken down by race, gender, and ethnicities to counter the problems and diseases plaguing them the most.
In 2020, owing to the new forms of inequalities visible after the pandemic, they launched a health equity advisory council to identify care disparities beyond the current quality measures to see the performance through an equity lens. With Kaiser Permanente, there is seamless, equal access to healthcare for everyone.
INCREASING INTEREST IN INCLUSION AND BELONGING
The team at Kaiser Permanente knows the value of inclusion and creating a sense of belonging. The culture is aimed towards a psychologically safe workplace where everyone has an equal opportunity and a sense of belonging. This is done via listening sessions in resource groups where internal biases are addressed. Multiple programs cater to racial, ethnic, and gender equity within the organization as well.
The company also has Belong@KP, which is a multi-year program aimed at combating racism, bias, and social injustice. Through this program, the participants can realize how their thoughts and actions can fuel racism and bias. It provides tools that help think and act more inclusively. This program also embeds inclusive and equitable practices in identifying, recruiting, developing, mentoring, assessing, and retaining diverse talent. Furthermore, the supplier diversity program also requires large suppliers to mirror Kaiser’s requirement that at least 20 percent of contractors be diverse. Finally, the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine also has courses and programs on diversity, equity, and inclusion practice. Hence, it is an important part of the curriculum designed to build responsible medical professionals of tomorrow.
COMMITMENT TO EQUITY BEYOND THE WORKPLACE
Kaiser Permanente doesn’t just ensure equity in the workplace but their promise to uphold it goes beyond that. Amidst the social unrest following George Floyd’s murder in 2020, the company took long-term actions to work on building equity in communities. They used their influence to raise voice in support of dismantling racism, disrupting the bias, and taking corrective actions against oppressive systems in the society.
The company committed $60 million in joint investments and $40 million in grants to address the lack of economic opportunities, address systemic and structural racism, and help with the trauma growing in the communities of color. This also included funding potential business ideas and helping startups led by black and other underrepresented groups. Furthermore, the country’s largest integrated healthcare system also launched a COVID-19 education campaign to increase vaccine confidence. They also offered $5 million in grants to 24 nonprofits and community-based organizations assisting people most affected by the pandemic.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION FOR KAISER PERMANENTE
Kaiser Permanente has undoubtedly revolutionized the healthcare industry. This is the reason that all their efforts and the work that has gone into creating an inclusive and diverse company and leadership have been recognized on various fronts. The company has been included in the Corporate Equality Index Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality fifteen years in a row. It also got the second spot in Diversity Inc’s 2020 Top 50 Companies for Diversity where it has managed to keep the top 10 spots for seven years in a row with the recognition dating back to fifteen years straight.
Kaiser Permanente was also awarded a spot in Fortune’s 100 Best Workplaces for Diversity, and Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2021 Corporate Equality Index this year. Among the other recent accolades also include the top places in National Organization on Disability 2020 Leading Disability Employer, Disability Equality Index’s Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion, Healthcare Equality Index LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader, Disability Equality Index Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion, Military Friendly top 10 employers.