Diversity management

In Swiss health care, interest in and relevance of the ‘diversity management’ concept has increased in response to the growing social, cultural and linguistic diversity of both patients and health care providers. This diversity forms a reality in Swiss health care institutions, which has to be acknowledged and addressed. However, while diversity is often linked to a single dimension, such as migration or gender, it encompasses other dimensions as well (e.g., sexual orientation, disability, age).

The implementation of a comprehensive diversity policy forms the key for developing a patient-focused, efficient and competitive organization. The core attributes of an organization such as its mission, strategy and portfolio of offered services should reflect and take into account issues of diversity and migration. Prerequisites for achieving such a policy include an organizational culture of openness and an overarching goal of equity for all. A diversity management policy aims to respond to the needs of both a diverse patient population and a diverse workforce, in a manner beneficial to all the institution itself included. Such investments are not only a question of a noble mind, but also worthwhile due to cost-effectiveness-considerations.

Diversity management interventions can involve improving communication, cultural competence and patient empowerment; they may include clinical and support services adapted to the needs of specific patient populations; staff hiring policies that promote and support a diverse workforce; and systematic data collection and performance measurement regarding diversity management.