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Marcie Hopkins, University of Utah Health
A People-First Approach to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Chief Human Resources Officer Sarah Sherer shares how Hospitals and Clinics Human Resources is working to integrate a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion at the individual, team and system-level.

hen I became University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics’ Chief Human Resources Officer two years ago, I set out to build and share a new vision of being a “people-first” organization.  

At its core, being people-first means we are deeply committed to inclusion and respect. Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) efforts are central to delivering on a people-first mission. Over the last two years, we have been building structures and processes to foster inclusion and respect at the individual, team, and system level, and the work has only just begun. 

Know me as an individual, first. 

Each of us has a unique and rich life that extends beyond our workplace. And we don’t leave our values and experiences at the door when we enter our clinic, office, or login to a computer at our kitchen table. 

The past several years have been challenging for everyone as we weather a pandemic, ongoing racial injustice, political strife and seemingly endless acts of violence. These experiences have been especially traumatic for our team members from historically marginalized communities.  

To better listen to each other, we launched the quarterly WellCheck employee survey in the fall of 2020. We regularly ask employees about burnout, respect, accountability and more. Teams across the organization are using the WellCheck data as a foundation to better know and understand the individual needs among their teams while also informing our broader goals as a health system. 

Its been impactful to hear team members’ stories of discrimination and also see how we can work towards cooperative solutions together. The WellCheck survey is helping leaders understand and prioritize inclusion for their teams. 

Engage teams to build community. 

Organizational learning and development are instrumental to our people-first approach. As a vital act of respect, we aim to foster a culture of belonging, where every person feels welcome. 

Addressing inequities in the workplace isn’t something we do as individuals—it is something we engage in as a community. As an organization, we are committed to doing the work to actively foster diversity and create a culture of belonging for everyone. 

I am proud to sponsor the EDI Learning Collaborative, kicking off this month. Together with Kavish Choudary, Chief Pharmacy Officer, and Rita Aguilar, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, the collaborative brings together professionals to learn and share real-life stories, health care context and best practices in everyday language. This interdisciplinary group is currently 25 people strong, with representation from across the health system.

Community problems require community solutions, and we’re working together to build easy-to-use resources for all people at University of Utah Health, including those who we serve. 

Build systems that benefit everyone. 

The benefits of work/life support programs are many. Organizations that invest in work/life initiatives are more productive, have lower turnover, and benefit from improved mental and physical health among employees. As an especially powerful added benefit, these programs have the greatest impact on the lives of Black, Indigenous, People of Color; populations that have been especially vulnerable to racism and economic hardship. 

We’re talking about work/life support as an “ecosystem.” In nature, an ecosystem is a complex, diverse, interconnected system to sustain life. Our administrative leadership team is committed to taking a fresh look at all aspects of our work environment, including our safety and security, benefits, and attendance policies to provide a more holistic approach supporting the whole person. After listening closely to feedback from our quarterly WellCheck surveys, we are excited to roll out significant work/life support enhancements over the next year. 

It is exciting to be part of the foundational changes ahead of us. I am grateful our team members trust us with their ongoing feedback; these are opportunities to hear what can make a difference in their work experience. My colleagues and I are committed to take this feedback and create a more equitable and well-rounded place for our team members to come and grow here. 


Sarah Sherer

Chief Human Resources Officer, University of Utah Health

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