03 28 sugiyama dyson hiringpractices header
Jen Rosio, University of Utah Health
Driving Access and Equity in Hiring Practices
Hiring challenges are not new to hospitals and HR departments, but they have compounded in recent years due to the pandemic and the growth of our system. The Talent Acquisition team is using these challenges as an opportunity to reassess and refine our hiring practices to align with Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion efforts. Lisa Dyson and James Sugiyama share how they’re partnering with others to drive access and equity in hiring.

avigating the challenges of hiring and retaining workers is a tale as old as time for most hospitals and human resources departments. Despite the opening of new facilities like the Sugar House Health Center and the Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital, the pandemic prompted many of our employees to transition out of health care into other fields.  

The unexpected onset of COVID-19, coupled with this surge of campus expansion, left us scrambling to backfill and hire new employees for an unprecedented number of vacant positions. These obstacles have given us, the Talent Acquisition team, an opportunity to reassess and refine our hiring practices to align with the U of U Health’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) efforts.  

In a collaborative push to overcome barriers to entry, the Talent Acquisition team is partnering with others at U of U Health and the community to implement strategies to recruit candidates from a diversity of backgrounds.

Using EDI principles, we hope to establish a consistent and fair process that encourages applicants with varying socioeconomic, education and experience levels to join our team.  

Current strategies  

Our journey has just begun, and we’re still in the listening and learning phase. As we continue to build on our foundation, here are some strategies we’re implementing to align new hiring practices with EDI efforts: 

Internal Mobility Center

We’ve opened the Internal Mobility Center to boost employee retention and provide our current workers with better assistance as they transition from one position to another. Employees can access our internal portal to locate and apply for positions. 

Managers can also utilize the Internal Mobility Center to partner with recruiters to identify potential candidates, advertise new positions or opportunities and measure interest.  

Workforce Development Center

Our Workforce Development Center will serve as the bridge between our Internal Mobility Center and our community outreach efforts. Our website will give employees and potential candidates access to tools for self-assessments and help them determine future pathways to career advancement.  

Liaison with other programs and systems

One of the greatest ways we can build our workforce is by collaborating with clinical partners, the Department of Workforce Services, the Health Anchor Network, technical colleges, community colleges, and four-year programs. By encouraging people within our communities to be a part of our health care system, we will tackle racial and economic inequities in the hiring process. 

Improved application process

We recently changed the application process so that people no longer need to submit a resume. Not everyone has access to build a resume—some may not know what information to include, and others may simply prefer not to have one. The emphasis in hiring should be on the work skills of candidates, not on their ability to create a resume. 

To reach a larger pool of candidates, we created a comprehensive system for people to answer a series of questions and upload their information in one place, rather than needing to use other resources or prepare separate documents.  

Updated screening language

We are using plain language in the online screening processes to ensure that we are not screening out well-qualified applicants. This includes pre-boarding, candidate relation management, and the development of screening questions and job applications.   

How to get started 

Partner up: Partner with recruiters (Talent Acquisition) and EDI consultants (Organizational Development) to evaluate the interview process for insight on how to become more inclusive. Talent Acquisition and EDI consultants can help you think through experiences of candidates that could add value to the culture of your team. They can also help you identify appropriate behavioral-based interview questions that are fair.  

Learn your biases: All people have biases. Sometimes those biases prevent us from recognizing qualified candidates. We need to acknowledge that bias exists, and look for ways to mitigate bias in selecting job candidates. We can eliminate these biases by learning how to address and interact with people from diverse backgrounds. Look at the language you use during interviews and focus on the value a candidate can add to the organization, rather than how they will “fit” within the system. Ask yourself: “Are they going to bring something new to the team, or complement another team member?”  

Keeping new hires engaged 

Provide realistic job previews: As a manager, help candidates make an informed decision to join your team by providing transparent previews of the duties and responsibilities of a job, setting realistic expectations and being intentional about conversations. 

Utilize peer interviews: Coworkers have a vested interest in helping their teammates become successful, so their insight can help managers identify prospective employees who will contribute to workplace culture. Peer interviews also give candidates an opportunity to meet the department and get a feel for whether the team will be a good fit.  

Spend time with new hires: Leaders can cultivate a sense of belonging by making sure all their workers feel seen and heard. For example, our Chief Pharmacy Officer, Kavish Choudhary, carves out specific time to welcome new hires to the organization and make them feel at home. The more time a manager can spend with an employee, the higher the chances are that the employee will stay engaged.  

Establishing hiring practices that reflect EDI is a decades-old hurdle to conquer; not everyone gets it right on the first try. But we’re heading in a good direction now, and we’re excited about the resources and the people that we have on board.  


Lisa Dyson

Director of Talent Acquisition, Human Resources, University of Utah Health

James Sugiyama

Talent Acquisition Manager, Human Resources, University of Utah Health

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest insights in health care equity, improvement, leadership, resilience, and more.