Diversity in Health Care

Our world is multicultural, its demographic situation and economics are in the process of a constant change. People from different cultural backgrounds face the problem of health status disparities. That is why cultural diversity is a prior notion to health care providers and health organizations.

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The concept of diversity is many faceted. It comprises acceptance and respect, and means understanding that each person is unique, with personal differences, distinctive characteristics, cultural background, religious and political beliefs, physical abilities, social status etc. Diversity is a kind of exploration of all these differences and understanding of other people. According to its nature diversity may be divided into four types. The first one is international characteristics, here belong gender, race, physical ability. The second one includes external features like religion, geographic location and parental status. The third type comprises organizational features like specialty and management occupation. The last one is personality.

Culture is our knowledge, beliefs, custom, art, skills and habits which we acquire as members of society. Cultural values give us meaning of life and sense of direction. Cultural competence will give the ability to health care providers to meet the needs of culturally diverse people, which means to provide care to patients with diverse cultural and linguistic needs, values, beliefs, and behaviors. A combination of attitudes, policies, and behaviors which boost health care providers to work effectively in cross-cultural situations is that what is called cultural competence.

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Diversity management is maintenance and fostering of positive workplace environment. The programs of diversity management promote respect for all individual differences and characteristic features of employees; they encourage them to appreciate race, gender, background or any other factors of those who work in the same area of the company. Employees are encouraged to accept that they have diverse habits, diverse abilities, values and beliefs etc. Diversity management means careful analysis of the needed changes in the company identity, creative and open company culture, which respects unique features of everybody.

The United States of America is the third most populated country and accounts nearly 4.5% of the whole population of the world. Since 1959, the population has doubled in size and has become different. It is getting older, bigger and more diverse. Much is debated concerning such health care components as access, right to health care, choice, cost, efficiency, and quality. Changes in the U.S. demographic situation have become reasons why the country spends so much, more than other countries, on health care.

Workplace diversity has long been a significant issue for many companies and organizations. Diversity of customers cannot be ignored due to the globalization and other changes that happen in the world. Cultural influence on the needs and wants of a customer is an important issue, which should be recognized and embraced. Mixture of cultures makes our life more interesting. But the diversity should not be badly treated because of our personal views and beliefs.

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The present day cultural diversity causes conditions where different people have the same problem which should be solved together. Diversity introduction in organizations is a solution to this problem, but in order to implement this practice, a lot should be changed.

Diversity in organizations is referred to socio-demographic traits of employees and involves not only hiring employees of different backgrounds but also empowering and embracing all minorities. There are several sources of diversity in organizations, among them changes in the structure of the work and demographic structure of the U.S., and the importance of globalization.

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