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Health care report 2008: Executive-level diversity challenges health care groups

Health care organizations throughout Central
Pennsylvania have not created programs or initiatives to aid their
approach to hiring minority and women executives, health-system representatives
said.

Health care organizations throughout Central
Pennsylvania have not created programs or initiatives to aid their
approach to hiring minority and women executives, health-system representatives
said.

And women and minorities are not hired to fill quotas. Only
the most qualified candidates are brought on board, representatives said.

But most do hire search firms to try to cast their nets into
the widest pool of talent possible. As equal opportunity employers, that
includes minorities and women, representatives said.

However, even using search firms and grooming talented
employees from within, health systems find it difficult to recruit and keep
minority executives in the region.

“The challenge has been particularly with professional
minorities and having a social infrastructure for them to lead personal
satisfying lives,” said Bob Batory, vice president of human resources for York
Township-based WellSpan Health. WellSpan operates York
Hospital, Gettysburg
Hospital and other smaller health care
facilities throughout York and Adams counties.

A lack of cultural attractions and business organizations
for minorities throughout the region has made it difficult to attract minority
executives, Batory said. The organization lost a young black woman executive
hired out of graduate school because she could not find what she wanted
socially in Central Pennsylvania, he said. She
went on to work for an organization in Pittsburgh,
where she was able to find a suitable social environment for herself in the
larger urban area, Batory said.

WellSpan and Penn
State Milton
S. Hershey
Medical Center
hire executive-search firms to help land minority executives. The medical
center tries to incorporate a diverse mix for all positions because it wants
its leadership to mirror its diverse group of patients, said Deborah Davis,
manager for diversity, inclusion and employment equity at the medical center.
Davis, a black woman, said the organization does not measure the amount of
minority employees it hires.

PinnacleHealth System, like other health care organizations
in the region, tries to develop talent from within its ranks to fill
senior-management positions, said Dr. Roger Longenderfer, Pinnacle president
and chief executive officer. Pinnacle employs about 4,600 across the region.

The organization also calls on executive-search firms to
identify potential minority and women executives, he said. So far, Pinnacle’s
efforts have yet to produce desired results, Longenderfer said.

Pinnacle’s board of directors will develop a planning
process to improve its recruitment and retention of minority and women
executives, Longenderfer said. A black woman from outside the area recently
turned down an executive position with Pinnacle because Central
Pennsylvania was not the right fit for her either, he said.
Pinnacle must do more to locate talent locally, early on, to prevent this, he
said.

Local talent should be groomed because those people will be
willing to stay in Central Pennsylvania, he
said. Large employers like Pinnacle should visit junior high schools to spark
interest and identify talent, he said.

“I will be the first
to admit I feel a bit frustrated,” Longenderfer said. “We have done fairly well
in middle- and upper-management areas. It has not yet translated into senior
management positions.”

Charles Wilson, a black man who was recruited to be chief
human resources officer at Penn
State Milton
S. Hershey
Medical Center,
said the region’s less-urban appeal does hinder its attraction of minorities,
but he took his position for other reasons.

A graduate of Penn State University,
Wilson worked for another health care
organization in Indianapolis before he landed in
Central Pennsylvania five years ago.

“I have children. We wanted a nice community for them.
Hershey and the area around Harrisburg provided
that,” Wilson
said. “I knew what to expect. I had some familiarity with Central Pennsylvania,
having attended Penn State in State College.”

Wilson
could not give specific figures, but he said the number of minorities in the
executive ranks at the medical center has grown in the past five years. The
numbers don’t grow quickly because executive positions don’t open often, he
said.

Finding women to fill executive health care positions
normally is not as hard because the industry is predominantly made up of women,
organization representatives said. Hershey
Medical Center’s
workforce is 75 percent women, Davis
said.

Lancaster General health system does not have a problem
recruiting women, said Regina Mingle, senior vice president and chief
leadership officer for the health system. Lancaster General operates Lancaster General
Hospital, Lancaster General’s Women & Babies Hospital and other smaller health care
facilities throughout the county.

“There are some minorities. Unfortunately it’s not a
balanced situation, but we are seeing more ethnic diversity,” Mingle said. “If
you were to look at the data, you would see more males than females in the
executive ranks. But I see that changing because the second-level jobs are now
more frequently filled with women.”

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