Finding 1

Finding 1:

Of the 62% of respondents whose organizations have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, 90% support them with training. Yet only 40% of those with DEI training require managers to participate.

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DEI Training in Healthcare

Amid the urgent demands of the pandemic, strong concerns surfaced about how to improve understanding of DEI challenges and promote health equity.

While news media aired longstanding concerns brought to wider awareness by specific events, research pointed to the detrimental effects of societal inequities on health and wellness.

Leaders recognized that knowledge and sensitivity are key to enhancing understanding of how to support diverse client needs and that dedicated DEI efforts can bolster support for staff health and wellness.



icon Key Takeaway

Many organizations are recognizing the need for formal training and staff discussions to understand diversity-related issues. Building a firm foundation for this understanding provides a base for growth.

DEI Training and participation

DEI Initiatives in the Healthcare Industry

More than half of respondents indicated that their organization was moving to actively address DEI-related issues. Within the healthcare sectors, the lowest participation was reported by post-acute care respondents, at just under half (49%). All other sectors reported 68% to 92% participation.

The low participation in post-acute care is concerning, as more than half of nurse aides and home care aides serving in post-acute care are people of color, and about one-fourth were born outside the U.S., according to PHI.

In addition, a recent study from Columbia University School of Nursing found that nursing homes with Black residents had higher rates of COVID-19 infection. Researchers concluded that the resources, services, and providers available in those settings, as well as structural bias, could play a role in the health inequity experienced in those settings.

Further, a recent report from the Human Rights Foundation found a lack of LGBTQ-inclusive policies in most long-term care facilities. Of those facilities that listed protected classes in their residential nondiscrimination policies, only 18% had fully LGBTQ-inclusive policies. In facilities that outlined employee nondiscrimination policies, only 36% had fully LGBTQ-inclusive policies.

Returning to the Relias survey results, respondents who reported participating in DEI initiatives indicated that training was involved in most of those efforts. The use of training was highest in acute and pre-acute care.

DEI Participation by Sector


DEI training by sector
Looking at how far reaching the training was in those organizations, mandatory staff training was the most prevalent implementation reported among healthcare organizations (79%). Notably, the community health sector indicated the highest use (84%) of mandatory training.

“Because community health centers are charged with serving diverse and traditionally underserved patient populations, a focus on diversity and equity is especially necessary.”
— Nellie Galindo, MSW, MSPH, Product Marketing Manager, Relias

Mandatory manager training was reported by only 40% of those using DEI training in healthcare overall. Yet supervisor attention to DEI issues is crucial to promoting staff health and wellness, supporting staff retention, enhancing understanding of social determinants of health, and promoting sensitivity to diverse client needs.

DEI training aspects

Looking at the results, “the high usage of mandatory training in human services’ DEI efforts could be attributed to the vast diversity of individuals served by this sector,” Galindo observes. Many organizations across behavioral health, substance use treatment, and social services require staff training on cultural competency and similar topics.

“Commitment to consistent DEI initiatives, especially training, not only is important for patient safety and better health outcomes, but also can be key for retaining qualified, engaged employees,” observes Rola Aamar, PhD, Senior Clinical Effectiveness Consultant at Relias.

“Organizations that create and promote inclusive work environments and consistently let staff know that DEI is a priority are the ones that are most likely to reduce moral injury and burnout among staff.”
— Rola Aamar, PhD, Senior Clinical Effectiveness Consultant, Relias

Although the findings show a firm commitment among many organizations to improve health equity and promote an inclusive environment for staff and clients, the responses show room for further discussions and growth in this area.

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