With more than 20,000 employees at the Brigham, hospital leaders believe that building a more equitable community in Greater Boston starts with the Brigham’s own workforce.
At the Brigham, multiple efforts are underway to increase professional opportunities inside and outside the hospital’s walls. Programs are in place to help employees take courses in computer skills, English as a Second Language, and immigration and U.S. citizenship. The hospital also engages in career development outreach to residents in surrounding neighborhoods, college students, and youth through initiatives like the Student Success Jobs Program.
Brigham departments are also establishing their own diversity, equity, and inclusion oversight committees to increase professional opportunities for underrepresented employees at every level. The committees task department leaders to meet specific benchmarks for hiring and promoting diverse candidates.
Normella Walker, MA, directs the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Brigham. To her, it’s essential for conversations about labor and the workforce to be informed of the history of racism in American work culture and how employees today continue to be impacted by that legacy.
“At its roots, racism is a system that was put in place to control labor,” says Walker. “It was a system that created divisions to keep people from uniting and uprising against inequities. In today’s culture, we are taught that opportunity is a pie without enough to go around. But inclusion is about sharing power and bringing more people in. We have to correct those mistaken belief systems around opportunity and start growing the pie for everyone.”