Changing the complexion of the industry
Issues of diversity, equity and inclusion represent an area in which bold steps continue to be called for, Jackson said. Many companies and industries have been more closely examining their performance in that sphere since the death of George Floyd in May 2020, and the topic resonates in healthcare because of documented disparities in access and outcomes.
Jackson hopes to use her Chair year to explore ways for HFMA to encourage greater diversity in healthcare finance. That’s an important step toward ensuring the industry mirrors its patient populations, a key to achieving culturally competent care.
“Because our membership reflects the complexion of the healthcare industry in general, it’s not very diverse,” Jackson said. “When traveling as an [HFMA] officer to various chapter meetings, I could literally go to three or four meetings in a row and be the only person of color.
“As a membership association, we can sit back and go, ‘Well, we reflect the industry, so there’s not too much we can do about that.’ Or we can try to dig in and provide tools and resources to help. There are opportunities certainly that we can help to foster.”
HFMA can circulate tools and best practices and establish measures of accountability. The goal would be to help organizations first understand the value of cultivating diversity with respect to all underrepresented groups, and from there examine why they may be falling short. Possible issues include biases that inadvertently may be present in tools, conferences and curricula, Jackson said.
“Whether it’s forums or courses or certifications, even some kind of an assessment that we’re able to package,” Jackson said, “are there things that we can put together that can really help organizations move the needle?”
She added, “This is not a challenge where you just say, ‘Oh, by the way, there are jobs over here,’ and then all of a sudden there’s this diverse group. It’s a really, really tricky problem. I can’t change — nor can HFMA change — the diversity of provider organizations. But what we can do is give them tools to assess where they’re at. Give them a road map as to how they might be able to change that.
“It may take longer than many of us would like, but we have to be bold and put the goals out there. That’s how we get better.”