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October 10, 2019 11:45 AM

The Importance of Diversity in Healthcare Recruitment

No matter where you are in the world, the chances are the healthcare professionals in your local hospital are homogenous as a group. That’s to say, for the most part, they have a lot in common. They may have similar backgrounds in terms of culture, they could be of the same gender (depending on the role), they might be of the same faith, and they could be the same sexual orientation.

And this is a massive problem.

Why? Because the patients in their care tend to be varied in the extreme.

According to the UN’s International Migration Report of 2017, the number of migrants across the globe at that time was an incredible 258 million people. This was an increase from the 2010 figure of 220 million.

The world is getting smaller as cultures intertwine and it’s now conceivable that a hospital can have patients from any corner of the globe.

Of course, this isn’t just about cultural backgrounds, but it’s an aspect that provides us with an easy-to-understand example of how a lack of diversity can have a negative impact on patient care.

So with this in mind, let’s take a closer look at why diversity is so important in healthcare recruitment.

Representation is the key to understanding

The language barrier isn’t the only obstacle that a health professional may have to deal with when treating a patient from a different cultural background. Cultural practices and traditions vary greatly and patients can feel extremely uncomfortable about bringing these up with their doctor or nurse if they are from a different background.

A healthcare professional who understands these cultural sensitivities will know how to put their patients at ease. They’ll understand the difficulties involved and, if needed, advise their colleagues of any dos and don’ts with regard to the patient’s care.

If we look at it from another angle, the same can be said with relation to gender. While a female doctor will certainly be able to provide the right care to a male patient, the patient may not feel comfortable speaking with a woman about particular health issues. In some cases, a sense of embarrassment might even see the patient fail to bring up an important matter and as a result, his condition may go untreated. The same problem can also arise when female patients visit male doctors.  

In both scenarios, recruiting a diverse workforce would ensure that the patient receives the right care. However, it’s important to note that we’re not suggesting that patients should only be treated by the people they can identify with. But a healthcare professional who is part of a diverse team will be more aware of any sensitivities certainly regarding culture.

As we mentioned previously in our post on the importance of diversity in the workplace, a diverse workforce is often a more culturally aware workforce. And that is hugely important in this day and age.

Diverse Representation

Diversity builds trust

A recent study by Stanford University and the University of California sheds some light on how a patient is more likely to trust a healthcare professional from a similar background as themselves.

The study asked 1,300 African-American men to undergo a general health survey. Each man was paid to attend and then offered an additional payment if they underwent a full health screening. Some of the screenings were carried out by African-American doctors while others were not. The results showed that the men treated by someone of a similar cultural background were 56% more likely to get a flu shot and 72% more likely to have their cholesterol checked.

Those statistics are quite alarming considering that each man in the study was encouraged by their doctor to get both the flu shot and the cholesterol check. This means that whether they knew it or not, the men in the study didn’t quite trust the non-African-American doctors.

If we look at this in a wider context, this means that the patients in a healthcare facility who feel that they cannot identify with those caring for them could inadvertently put themselves at risk. A lack of trust, even if completely unfounded, is hard to shake.

Another study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that African-American doctors in the US could reduce the black-white male gap in heart disease death rates by as much as 19%

The truth is, patients want to see diversity and when they do, they trust their healthcare professionals more. That in itself should be reason enough to diversify the workforce in any healthcare facility.

Diversity leads to innovation

When we discuss the healthcare industry it’s easy to focus on patient care, but what about medical research? Of course, it makes sense to conduct clinical trials and medical research on a diverse pool of subjects. However, that’s not quite what we’re talking about here.

According to research by McKinsey & Company, a diverse workforce is 33% more likely to outperform its non-diverse counterpart. The study found a direct correlation between diversity and profitability which in most cases is due to the innovative savviness of a company’s employees.

As you can imagine, the field of medical research is one that requires innovative thinking. The demand for new medicines, better equipment, and improved medical procedures is constant and so the need for people who think outside the box is essential.

This is where a diverse workforce comes into its own. With different backgrounds, levels of experience, and educations, the diverse workforce can offer a myriad of perspectives. This promotes lateral thinking and fosters that all-important environment of innovation the industry requires.


It widens the talent pool

From a recruitment standpoint, having access to more potential candidates is always a good idea. And in an industry where qualified candidates are often hard to come by, it makes sense to cast a wider net where possible.

We have always been big proponents of diversity in recruitment and to anyone who reads the blog regularly, this may sound familiar. Nevertheless, it’s worth repeating – diversity is an essential component of a successful recruitment campaign. You know it, we know it, and now it’s time to put it into practice in the healthcare industry.


Are you recruiting for the healthcare industry but struggling to meet your diversity goals? If so, then we can help. Book a free no-obligation demo today and our sourcing consultants will help you create the diverse workforce your patients need.

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