MACKINAC ISLAND — Carladenise Edwards, Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer at Henry Ford Health System, didn’t mince words in her rebuke of the notion companies and organizations are truly being more diverse and inclusive.
“It’s a lot of PR”, said Edwards, in response to a moderator’s question to what organizations are doing as it relates to their announcements on diversity and inclusion. “I just think the only way to get around this is for us to actually do what we say which is to create a plan, create a strategy, live in to the plan, and hold yourself accountable for the outcomes and you only do that if you tell people what it is. So many companies have done a good job of telling people what it is. Now, our job is to hold them accountable for it. Look at what they said in those earnings calls about what they were going to do and ask them if they actually did it.”
Edwards also took issue with the black hiring of diversity officers and calls on more black hires in C-suit positions. “If I look on Linkedin one more time and I see another black person take another diversity job, I’m going to scream. I believe that women and people of color can do more than be your chief diversity officer. We’re scientists, we’re teachers, we’re economists.”
Edwards’ comments were made in a conference panel focused on Investing in Health Disparity. Bridget Hurd, Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity & Chief Diversity Officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Trine Tsouderos, Health Research Institute Leader at PWC, were also a part of the session as panelists.
“I do believe there is a lot of lip service out there …I want us to be who we grew up to be and that will only happen when we stop doing lip service and you give people of color a chance. You give them a chance by giving them the job they studied in school”. Edwards added, “very few of us actually studied diversity, we just know it because we’re black and we know it unfortunately through the school of hard knocks”.
You can watch the full session in the following link or watch starting at the 42:16 mark.