Agrace is committed to care, diversity

Workforce and workplace inclusion are in place
Agrace is committed to care, diversity

Of the companies that answered questions on their diversity efforts, Agrace had the most notable practices.

When Lynne Myers became president and CEO of Agrace Hospice and Palliative Care in 2012, one of the first things she noticed was that the staff, volunteers and people served by Agrace lacked diversity. She quickly assembled a team to address it.

“One of the things that we know is not all communities view hospice the same way,” says Myers, whose nonprofit, community-based health care agency provides end-of-life care and related services to patients and families in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. She knew that if Agrace’s workforce didn’t match the makeup of the broader community, she says, “then we were never going to have a patient and family base that reflects that diversity.”

In 2014, Agrace incorporated diversity efforts into its long-range strategic plan. A key component was to create a position charged with reaching out to diverse and underserved communities while helping to diversify the organization’s staff and bank of volunteers. Brenda Gonzalez, diversity manager at Agrace, oversees the scholarship programs for high school seniors and nontraditional students to become certified nursing assistants and emergency medical technicians. Much of her job is working with community organizations and businesses to collaborate on efforts to build bridges to underserved populations. “There’s a complete commitment internally to what we do,” Gonzalez says, adding that the diversity plan includes cultural competency training for staff.

Myers says Agrace is making progress. In 2014, diverse employees made up 6 percent of its workforce compared with 8.3 percent in 2016. In 2014, 1.1 percent of Agrace’s patient population was diverse compared with 3.5 percent in 2016.

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