Effective Engagement Of White Employees In Workplace Inclusion Strategies In Healthcare Organizations

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This capstone paper explores the subject of effective engagement of White employees in healthcare workforce inclusion strategies. While diversity, equity, and inclusion work in healthcare delivery organizations has become an increasingly high priority, leaders of this function must grapple with engagement of disparate audiences in order to achieve their goals. White employees wield outsized influence in creating a greater sense of inclusion in the workplace yet they are less likely to be engaged in diversity & inclusion work. The limited attention that this topic has received from academia was explored in three sections: (1) diversity approach, (2) Whiteness, which included work on privilege, ‘fragility’, and positive identity development, and (3) case studies. Qualitative interviews of 16 practitioners with diverse profiles produced findings regarding their overall approach, approaches to difference and commonality, and the effective engagement of White employees. Three participants voiced a concern about the framing of the research topic; their objections were valuable in highlighting the dialectical and strategic conflicts regarding a focus on racial identity. The participants largely agreed that the White encounter with workplace inclusion was exceptional, that psychological safety was paramount, and that development of positive work identities and relationships were key considerations. The participants’ preferred strategic frames were mixed between healthcare quality, business, and social justice. The participants’ leadership strategies to engage Whites were closely related to best practices for leading organizational culture change. After a synthesis of the extant literature and the interview findings, four critical insights were offered. The paper ends with a personal reflection.

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Submitted to the Program of Organizational Dynamics, College of Liberal and Professional Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania Advisor: Harvey Floyd, PhD
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