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Realities and Challenges

Acknowledge: It Is What It Is

Realities and challenges
A fundamental principle of effectively implementing change is to first acknowledge current realities. For diverse healthcare professionals, embracing career realities requires recognition of both challenges and opportunities resulting from their social identity in the workplace. Leslye Steptoe, PhD, describes how she leveraged her experience and social identity into a new career opportunity.

Know the Challenges


One healthcare executive career needs study identified several areas of particular challenge for racially/ethnically diverse healthcare professionals: “Minority Career Challenges.” One way to stay abreast of current realities is through articles covering diversity and inclusion in the healthcare workplace and marketplace.

Realities & Challenges by Career Stage

  1. Understand stereotype threat

    Anyone can experience and react to the self-inflicted barrier known as stereotype threat. Summarized, it’s the real-time threatening feeling of being judged and treated poorly in settings where a negative stereotype about one’s group may apply. In response, the individual modifies his/her behavior, oftentimes to one’s detriment. Peggy Harris shares her advice on managing bias in the workplace and remembering to not allow yourself to be disrespected but to always perform with excellence!

  2. Learn to counter implicit/explicit bias

    As a professional from an underrepresented group, it’s a reality that you’re likely to face implicit and explicit biases in the workplace. It can be challenging to learn how to handle those situations without internalizing unhealthy responses or reacting in a career-damaging way. Michelle L. Edwards, FACHE, tells how she has learned to counter bias in the workplace. Anthony Ashby, FACHE, provides another perspective and offers 3 tips to deal with this real issue.

  3. Embrace your social identities

    See how Chisun Chun, Director of Clinical Operations continues to progress her career and professional success by building on her multi-cultural competence and embracing her own character, skills, and experience through networking.

  4. Develop emotional intelligence

    The numerous dimensions of diversity require that we all learn about cultures and communities outside our own. Strengthening our multi-cultural competence will benefit our interactions with colleagues and healthcare consumers, while contributing to inclusive, equitable environments. Lorie V. Thibodeaux shares how her familiarity with Muslim culture helped her build trust with a fearful patient and supported equity of care.

Check out this video clip of interview with non-profit executive Kyung Yoon, as she describes the role diversity has played in shaping her leadership style, as she counters a common stereotype threat for Asian American women.

  1. Balance self-promotion & humility

    Knowing how and when to inform others—especially key decisionmakers—of your accomplishments is an essential skill for any mid-careerist. You can hone this skill by working with your mentors, coaches and sponsors. Carefully observing leaders who know how to appropriately self-promote can also help you sharpen this skill. Practicing professional self-promotion can be particularly challenging for leaders from cultures and families that instilled humility as desired trait. Hospital president Dana Weston Graves offers her observations on balancing self-promotion and humility in your career. Jhaymee Wilson-Tynan, FACHE also addresses how to balance self-promotion while maintaining personal humility in the The Art of Self-Promotion here.

  2. Maintain confidence, esp. facing identity backlash & subordinate challenges

    It is not uncommon for leaders from racial/ethnic or LGBT diverse backgrounds to encounter unwarranted push-back—based mainly on their social identity—from their peers, supervisors or even subordinates. In spite of this unfair treatment, successful diverse leaders learn how to maintain their confidence and composure, while also drawing necessary boundaries. Lily Henson offers an example of how she has learned to manage such situations. Watch Dr. Edmund Lafer in a short video reflecting on his successful leadership journey as a LGBT Healthcare Leader.

  3. Develop multi-cultural competence

    Learning how to effectively work with and engage with people from diverse cultures is an essential skill for any executive’s success. Successful leaders who are culturally diverse themselves continue to intentionally sharpen this competence. Anthony Ashby, FACHE, shares two practical tips to stay multiculturally competent.

  4. Practice strategic risk-taking

    For many professionals who are among the numerical minority in their workplace, taking risks may seem difficult. Learning how to successfully take strategic risks—such as volunteering for a tough assignment—can help to propel your career forward. Avoiding risks altogether may be the most detrimental career risk, according to CEO Nicholas Tejeda, who encourages stepping forward to take action. Also, check out the plan Keith Terry used to help him take strategic risks in his career.

  1. Leverage personal & social identities

    At this stage in your career, you are fully comfortable in who you are and embrace your authentic self. In fact, you have learned how to leverage all aspects of your multiple identities as assets in your career. Experienced healthcare executive, Carmen Kenrich, shares an example of how she uses one of her strengths to contribute to an inclusive culture.

  2. Practice inclusive leadership

    Effective leaders—regardless of their personal demographic background—practice inclusive leadership. Leaders from diverse backgrounds, however, can bring an enhanced presence to their careers through inclusiveness. CEO Nicholas Tejeda offers a few tips for practicing inclusive leadership.

  3. Engage with diverse communities

    Engagement with diverse communities is not only critical for creating a more engaged workforce and greater competitive advantage but also for establishing values as minorities. Differences in experiences, background, and thought are the wellspring of new ideas and innovation letter to better organizational and individual success. Dana Weston shares the importance of promoting ourselves as opportunities for growth.