Knowledge Center

Kaiser Permanente—Achieving Our Mission and Growing the Business Through the National Diversity Agenda

Kaiser Permanente’s initiative, Achieving Our Mission and Growing the Business Through the National Diversity Agenda, makes diversity and inclusion central to the organization’s competitive advantage and its ability to deliver culturally competent health care to its 8.7 million members. The National Diversity Agenda is an organizational framework to develop an engaged, professional, and diverse workforce sensitive to the needs of patients and members. Kaiser Permanente employees share a strong commitment to improving health and saving lives and the Agenda’s localized approach to health care and outreach allows them to make the best decisions for each and every member. The company’s longstanding efforts to implement the Agenda have been rewarded with significant results.

The initiative includes several innovative components. The Institute for Culturally Competent Care develops resources such as clinician handbooks that address specific health- and care-related issues for women, African-Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Latinas/os, people with disabilities, people with hearing loss, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population. The Qualified Bilingual Staff program ensures that staff has the language proficiency necessary to service and care for limited-English speaking members. LGBT members and their families are supported through a number of programs, including specific physician training on LGBT issues and care. Centers of Excellence in Culturally Competent Care, sponsored by the National Diversity Department, are resource centers grounded in research that identify best practices for eliminating health care disparities among various sub-groups of the population. Through its electronic patient medical records system, the organization collects race and ethnicity data and conducts rigorous research to further reduce disparities in care. Diverse clinical unit-based teams foster open and non-hierarchical communication to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate and attentive care. Additional programs reinforce employee development and excellence, including a number of employee resource groups, a broad network of employees certified in diversity training, and Executive and Diversity Leadership mentoring that allows women and racially/ethnically diverse participants to network with senior-level leaders and prepares them for expanded career opportunities.

Achieving Our Mission and Growing the Business Through the National Diversity Agenda demonstrates that an investment in diversity and inclusion can yield continual improvement for women and men. In 2007, women held 47 percent of senior executive positions, and racially/ethnically diverse women held 12 percent of these positions. By 2009, these numbers had increased to 50 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Through targeted recruitment, the organization increased the representation of diverse women executive physicians from 3.7 percent in 2007 to 11.8 percent in 2009, and diverse men executive physicians from 11.3 to 13.6 percent during that same time period. Between 2001 and 2009, the percentage of women board directors increased from 21 percent to 36 percent, and racially/ethnically diverse women on the board increased from 7 percent to 24 percent.