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.

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. Diversity may be classified into four layers; they are internal dimensions like gender, race, physical ability, external dimensions like religion, geographic location and parental status, and organizational dimensions like specialty and management occupation, and 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. Cultural competence is regarded to be a set of attitudes, policies, and behaviors which enables health care providers to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.

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. demographics have caused the fact that the country spends more on health care than any other country.

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. Cultural diversity helps us make our work environments, friends, neighbors, families and even country interesting. But whatever the diversity, we should never let our personal biases and factors treat them in a negative way.

The cultural diversity of the present-day society places different people in conditions where they face common problems which should be solved in the way of cooperation. It requires diversity introduction in an organization that can be a difficult task as much has to be changed, especially assumptions about the ways of working. The aim of the diversity management process is to create a dominant diverse culture but not to assimilate various cultures in a dominant one.

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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