Efforts to recruit and retain a diverse workforce is beneficial not just for employees and organizations but for consumers as well. As we become increasingly diverse as a nation, it is imperative that our workforce, including that of the AUCD Network, reflects both the general population and the populations of those we serve. Two goals repeatedly recommended in the Toolkit team information-gathering process were: an organizational commitment to 1) identify and hire, and 2) retain staff from diverse backgrounds to contribute to a stronger, more successful workforce as well as a better served community.
The Toolkit information-gathering process consistently identified a priority of establishing collaborative relationships and sharing resources throughout the AUCD Network. Resource and information sharing relationships can be mutually beneficial.
Implementing diversity and inclusion successfully means engaging and creating relationships with organizations and communities that work with diverse populations. Without expanding into unfamiliar territory and working with organizations who are experts in this area, the AUCD network will not know what is, or who are, in the communities that may be essential to the understanding and expansion of the individuals and communities served.
This Toolkit challenges the AUCD Network to make mentorship a priority, based on many respondents’ requests. It calls for the implementation of an effective mentorship program. This includes focusing on formal and informal mentoring relationships. The Toolkit also calls for the provision of funds to support these types of initiatives. Mentorship should take place within Network organizations and also between organizations, in order to maximize the far-reaching benefits of these supportive and positive connections. It is important to remember that effective mentorship programs require commitment, planning, and follow through.
Recruiting and retaining a diverse pool of trainees has been widely recognized as improving workforce diversity and improving services, especially in the health care field. The CLAS Standards (pp. 15-16) highlight "an increased need for health and health care professionals and organizations to provide effective, high-quality care that is responsive to the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of individuals served. The need for culturally and linguistically appropriate care is particularly great since similar demographic changes have not occurred in the health and health care workforce (e.g., Genao et al, 2003; Institute of Medicine [IOM], 2004; Sullivan & Mittman, 2010. Given the important role that culture plays in health and health behaviors (Kleinman, Eisenberg, & Good, 1978; Tseng & Streltzer, 2008), the lack of workforce diversity is significant since it widens the cultural gap that already exists between health and health care professionals and consumers, which subsequently contributes to the persistence of health disparities (Brach & Fraser, 2000; Genao et al., 2003). The provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services can help to bridge this gap".