July/August 2000

Networking Attracts More Minority Candidates for Leadership Positions


As an employer, Catholic Health Initiatives is committed to promoting diversity in its workforce, especially in the ranks of senior and executive management. In the two years that Catholic Health Initiatives has worked closely with groups such as the Institute for Diversity in Health Management and the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE), the number of minority candidates for senior management openings has more than quadrupled, according to Brandon Melton, vice president of human resources for Catholic Health Initiatives.

"Someone once told me that an organization that can’t find talented minority candidates for high-level positions simply isn’t looking in the right places," said Melton. "NAHSE and the Institute for Diversity are definitely two of the right places to look."

To help recruit minority leaders for market-based organizations and national offices, Melton attends the national conferences of NAHSE, an organization for African-American health care executives. "Kevin Lofton, our chief operating officer, is a past president of NAHSE and just won the group’s Senior Executive of the Year Award," said Melton. "Kevin is one of the most respected health care executives in the country, and his high profile has raised Catholic Health Initiatives’ visibility with NAHSE as well as other groups of health care executives."

Catholic Health Initiatives also maintains a high profile with the Institute for Diversity in Health Management, which is associated with the American Hospital Association. Mike Fordyce, chief administrative officer for Catholic Health Initiatives, sits on the Institute’s board, and Melton helped organize its first annual leadership conference last year. "I attended the second annual conference in June along with several representatives from market-based organizations," Melton said. "We hosted a reception, which gave Catholic Health Initiatives a lot of exposure."

The Institute offers several resources for building diversity within Catholic Health Initiatives. One is a summer internship program for college and graduate students who are members of ethnic minority groups and want experience in health care management. "We have several interns working in our national offices and market-based organizations this summer," said Melton. "We are benefitting from their enthusiasm and talent for at least the 12 weeks of their internships, and may be able to transition some of them to full-time work."

Another workforce diversity resource is DiversityConnection.org, the Institute’s Web site for connecting minority candidates with jobs in health care management. Market-based organizations can access the site to search a database of abstracted resumes and post job openings. DiversityConnection.org is available through the Institute for Diversity in Health Management’s Web site at www.institute fordiversity.org. "We post all of Catholic Health Initiatives’ executive openings to this site, and get resumes from excellent candidates in return," said Melton.

While there is a great deal of work to be done to attract more diverse leaders to Catholic Health Initiatives, Melton believes the organization has credibility with minority candidates. "We already have women and minorities in our highest-profile positions," he said. "Our goal now is to build on that foundation so that Catholic Health Initiatives will have the leadership talent it needs and can benefit from diverse points of view."