VP of Nursing and Patient Care Service
By Karen Haller, PhD., RN
I have spent a career working with people who are very much like me—white, American, English-speaking women.
The reason we value hiring people from varied national, racial, and socioeconomic groups is simple: Diversity will make us stronger as a profession, and it will make the healthcare system more effective. Diversity helps, not just because it brings our numbers up, but because it adds new and fresh perspectives that will help us solve complex problems.
In his New York Times Business bestseller, The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki argues that diversity is important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise. We need to value diversity, not just in a social sense, but in a conceptual and cognitive sense. Groups that are too much alike—for example, all white women—find it hard to keep learning. Nothing rocks their worldview.
At the hospital, the Department of Nursing has made assimilating diversity one of its strategic foci for the next two years. Our aim is to achieve a demographically representative work force, whose members are all on the same team—making us effective because of our differences, not in spite of them.
The goal is not to be alike. Rather, the goal is to learn and grow because our differences bring constructive dissent and debate as we work to improve healthcare for all.