Our new DEI program: Turning growth into transformation

It’s been more than a year since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis – what Caste author Isabel Wilkerson called a “psychic break” in our nation’s consciousness. Since then, many organizations have launched new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs to elevate their workforce cultures. Others expanded their existing initiatives to amplify marginalized voices.

Tribal Health has launched a DEI program to honor our core values and our mission of transforming Indigenous healthcare. Because we focus on providing culture-centric care to address Native American healthcare disparities, we value training in cultural competency. But that’s not the be all and end all of delivering exceptional patient care. Nor is it enough to build a genuinely inclusive workplace culture. A committed DEI program, with a team willing to hold honest conversations and explore areas for improvement, can elevate our performance in every area.

So far we’ve launched a hotline to report incidents of harassment and bias, as well as a book club tailored to exploring themes of diversity, healthcare disparities, and transformation. We’re also launching a series of lunch and learns with guest speakers on different topics.

Most excitingly, we hired Melody Lewis, Mojave/Tewa/Hopi and an enrolled member of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, to lead the program as Director of DEI.Melody is a social entrepreneur who specializes in systems of workforce development, education, and capacity building, utilizing collaborative approaches rooted in Indigenous identity. If you’re in Phoenix, you might know her first business, Indigenous Community Collaborative. IndigenousCC targets workforce systems, educational institutions, and nonprofits to create forward-thinking solutions that empower the Indigenous voice.

“Indigenous communities primarily function from a collectivist perspective, meaning, community and family holistic well-being are at the forefront of all business decisions,” she said. “That’s my personal and business mission too. We hope that DEI initiatives align to that perspective and evolve to take the lead in everyday business. “

An electric presence and workforce innovator, Melody started bringing creative DEI ideas to the table on day one and hasn’t stopped.

DEI should never be just a paragraph in an employee handbook or a check-the-box HR initiative. At Tribal Health, it is a living, breathing reality fed by every team member. Every service we deliver, every patient we care for, every attitude we bring to a meeting, ultimately shapes not only our culture, but patient outcomes. We take that responsibility seriously and we are committed to nothing less than extraordinary transformation.

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