Happy Pride Month! To celebrate Ochsner Health’s diversity and inclusion initiatives during June, Ochsner Health’s Chief Diversity Officer, Deborah Grimes, answers a few questions.
First, some background. Grimes joined the Ochsner family in March 2020. Her role as chief diversity officer is critical in leading workforce and employee strategies at Ochsner Health. Grimes works within committees across the board to reduce disparate health outcomes and improve healthcare equity for all Ochsner patients. Originally trained as a nurse, Grimes then obtained a law degree and worked as a risk management healthcare attorney.
Grimes has held several executive leadership positions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, including director of Joint Commission/Quality Resources, vice president of Quality/Regulatory Affairs and chief compliance officer before being appointed to her current role. She is a leader of several professional groups, including the National Black Nurses Association, the National Healthcare Compliance Association and the National Association Society of Healthcare Executives. In 2019, she was named as one of the Most Influential Women in Corporate America by Savoy Magazine.
Q: As our chief diversity officer, supporting diversity and inclusion practices in the workplace is your top concern at Ochsner Health. What would you consider the strongest benefits of a diverse and accepting organization?
A: When you celebrate diversity, at all levels, you are celebrating uniqueness. Unique qualities about a person do not stop when you enter the workplace. At the same time, inclusion does not happen without intention. You must intentionally consider inclusion initiatives as you make decisions as an organization. How can you intentionally tap into your diverse community?
The outcome of focusing on both diversity and inclusion (the data is very clear on this) is we will be more innovative. We will increase engagement from our patients and our employees. If we intentionally focus on inclusion and diversity, we will be stronger from every aspect. Being more inclusive and diverse will make us better. It takes us all to make it better, and I am so excited that we will focus on it at a strategic level. In addition to approaching it from a strategic level, we are committed to it from a passion standpoint. This is something we genuinely believe in and will continue our commitment to it.
Q: We have an entire month dedicated to bringing awareness to LGBTQ issues and appreciating the commitment to culture. What most excites you about Pride Month?
A: Pride Month is a time to celebrate everyone's inclusion, especially in the LGBTQ community. We want to be inclusive year-round but having an entire month to be deliberate in our celebration is fantastic. It is validating, a lot of fun, and an exciting time to celebrate our LGBTQ friends and patients.
Q: There are so many ways to celebrate and recognize Pride Month at work, whether it be sharing a LinkedIn post hash tagged #OchsnerPride or taking a selfie in front of the raised rainbow flag outside of our Baptist campus. What are some ways you plan to celebrate Pride Month?
A: The pandemic has made it a little harder to do that, but our PRIDE Ochsner Resource Group came up with a fantastic way around this. They will have "Rainbow Happy Hour Sessions" virtually, and I plan to attend to celebrate with the Ochsner LGBTQ community.
Q: A lot of people are using Pride Month as an opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of LGBTQ month. How can team members celebrate Pride Month at campuses or at home?
A: Seek out opportunities with our LGBTQ community to support celebrations and efforts. Get involved with Pride events. There is no one way to celebrate Pride Month, but we need to be open and inclusive to all the ways to celebrate. It could be as simple as wishing people "Happy Pride Month" to bring awareness to your workplace.
With all the recent events considered we thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We know that your work for the system is important and your time is valuable.
I could never have imagined that we would have a pandemic that would directly relate to health disparities so soon after starting my role as chief diversity officer at Ochsner Health. The national conversation about racism during our crisis response to COVID-19 has been challenging. But Ochsner Health has had an awesome response to all challenges we have faced. From an organizational standpoint, I am very excited about the things we will be doing going forward.
If you are ready to join a truly inclusive team, speak to a recruiting specialist today! ochsner.org/careers