What Diversity Can Do For You

Having a diverse practice isn’t just a good ethical principle — it’s also good business sense.


May 2015

What do companies like MasterCard, IBM, and Dell have in common?

These are wildly successful organizations that also make it a point to promote diversity in their hiring practices. Diversity is a difficult subject. Even in the United States, among health care professionals, where the dialogue for social justice is relatively common, the topic of diversity can make individuals uncomfortable. Yet for the imaging specialty, which ranks in the bottom percentiles of large specialties for representation of underrepresented minorities (URMs) and women in its trainee programs, diversity is a conversation that must be had.

Opponents of diverse hiring move the conversation to affirmative action, noting that they hire based solely on ability, rather than worrying about their potential employee’s gender or race. Yet, despite our best intentions, numerous studies report employers giving preference to resumes with male-gendered, white-sounding names. Choosing what is similar to us is coded in our nature. It’s safe. It’s what we know. But it doesn’t make good business sense. Having a diverse population in your practice or department fosters innovation and valuable patient care.

Radiology’s ability to innovate is one of radiology’s greatest strengths, and also one of its most difficult challenges. As new technologies continue to emerge, imaging specialists must not only harness these technologies, but also ensure that these technologies serve their patient population in the best possible manner. In addition to solving these problems, radiologists must also determine how they can stay viable as consultants in a rapidly changing health care system. Research in top, innovative business frequently shows that having a diverse set of voices — be it in terms of class, race, gender, or sexuality — fosters success. Cristian Deszö, PhD, of the University of Maryland and David Ross, PhD, of Columbia University performed a study that analyzed the effect of gender diversity on the top firms in Standard & Poor’s Composite 1500 list. They found that, on average, those companies that valued innovation and had female participation in upper management led to an increase of at least $42 million in firm value.

The same advantages occur with racial diversity; a study from the University of Chicago analyzed data from the National Organizations Survey and found correlations with racial diversity and increased sales revenue, more customers, greater market share, and greater profits. Having a diverse set of medical students helps majority students feel more prepared to work with lower income, racially diverse patients. underrepresented minority physicians are more likely to work with lower income and harder to reach patients. By promoting diversity in the workplace, you are promoting value in radiology.

The problem with large scale studies such as the ones linked to above, as Scientific American points out, is that we can only find a correlation between success and diversity, rather than causation. However, it makes sense that by pulling from a disparate set of minds, with a different set of opinions and backgrounds, you would be able to come up with innovative solutions to problems that you may encounter. Those with a different point of view may also be able to pinpoint solutions a group is seeking. And the more solutions radiology groups are able to offer to the rest of health care, the better positioned they will be to secure their place.

If you’re interested in talking about diversity and exploring these arguments more, check out the Commission on Women and Diversity’s Forum at ACR 2015, on Tuesday at noon. Or you can attend the Association of Women in Radiology’s panel, “Entrepreneurial Women Leaders,” on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

And Read This Too

Improving Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation in Radiology and Radiation Oncology Part 1: Why These MatterImproving Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation in Radiology and Radiation Oncology Part 1: Why These Matter

Improving Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation in Radiology and Radiation Oncology Part 2: Challenges and Recommendations
Six Ways to Make Your Practice More Diverse, Inclusive, and Welcoming

By Meghan Edwards, copywriter for the ACR Bulletin

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