Kimberly Brister has championed diversity in the workplace for years as talent acquisition director at WellSpan Health.
She has a new title but she doesn’t see her work changing much from what it has been over the past five years.
Brister is now WellSpan’s senior director of talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion.
She still oversees hiring at the health system, which employs more than 19,000 people. But she also will have a formal hand in promoting diversity and creating an inclusive workplace.
“Diversity in any organization really helps to create rich dialogue and knowledge and gives us insight in how to best serve our customers,” Brister said.
All of the hospital system’s staff members take diversity training, with leaders undergoing additional training in how to manage a diverse workforce. The system did not have any data on its workforce diversity immediately available.
The training, as well as additional resources available to staff, are crucial in fostering a positive environment for both employees and patients, said Bob Batory, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at WellSpan.
“We feel a deep sense of responsibility to ensure our team members understand and can provide quality, culturally appropriate care to an increasingly diverse community,” Batory said.
Brister first joined WellSpan in 1990 as a physician office assistant and worked there for nine years before leaving to join what was then Dentsply international Inc.
When Brister returned to WellSpan Health in 2006 as a senior human resources representative, she quickly looked into what WellSpan was doing to increase diversity and worked with leadership to do more.
“I immediately began working with our organization’s learning and developing team to build diversity across the system,” she said.
Brister plans to bolster the department’s ongoing work in diversity by creating programs to help all employees feel more comfortable at work.
“For anyone, regardless of race, creed, color or national origin, feeling safe and feeling included is critical in a healthy working environment,” said Karen Young, president of HR Resolutions in Susquehanna Township. “Any employee should know that it’s OK to make mistakes and that it’s safe to own up to those and learn from them.”
Brister said it also is crucial to ensure employees don’t feel clumped or stereotyped but are instead engaged with the mission of the organization, which can tap into their unique experiences and knowledge.
“Kim is the right leader for this role because she is authentically committed to WellSpan’s mission and values, and to our goal of building a more engaged, diverse and inclusive workforce to better serve our community,” Batory said.
The talent acquisition team is currently working on developing a diversity oversight team that will perform assessments on how included the staff at WellSpan’s facilities feel, as well as build training programs to help staff continue to be thoughtful toward people regardless of their differences.
The department has not yet decided what those programs will look like but will continue to build a plan in the coming months.
Brister has an MBA in health care administration from the University of Phoenix. In addition to her role at WellSpan, she volunteers as a mentor in the Community Opportunity Scholarship Program at York College. The program offers scholarships and mentorships to help high school students prepare for college.
The program allows Brister to work with high school students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, some of whom have been hired by WellSpan.