Building the business case for diversity


We think improving gender balance in ICM is a great idea because female doctors should have equal access to our exciting specialty. But what’s in it for our patients? Is it possible that improving workforce diversity could improve patient outcomes in the intensive care unit?

In the business world there is a lot of interest in the impact of workforce diversity- especially at a leadership level- on the ‘bottom line’. It’s called building the business case for diversity. Here’s a couple of Australian examples:

  • A study of the top 500 firms on the Australian Stock Exchange found that “board diversity is positively associated with financial performance after controlling for a number of firm-specific, ownership and governance characteristics…”

  • A Queensland rural business which addressed its "bloke problem" by hiring more women has been rewarded with a big jump in profits.

There are a few theories why increased leadership diversity improves profit. It may be that allowing more perspectives in to the decision-making process for more creative and flexible solutions. A diverse leadership team may better engage and respond to the needs of the diverse customer base.

There’s good reason to think the same could apply to Intensive Care Medicine. Perhaps a diverse team of intensivists could better respond to patient needs, leading to improved patient safety and outcomes. Let’s start building the ‘patient safety’ case for diversity.


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