4 ways that diversifying radiology’s ranks can translate directly to the bottom line

Diversifying the ranks of readers in radiology isn’t just a feel-good endeavor; it’s a strategic imperative that can translate directly to any practice’s bottom line.

Two imaging experts recently pleaded their case for inclusion in a new analysis, published Jan. 2 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology. Despite numerous initiatives to bolster the number of women and underrepresented minorities in the specialty, many radiology business leaders are not taking this issue with the seriousness it deserves, or lack the budget and leadership support needed to make gains.

“For programs that cannot or do not want to invest in diversity and inclusion, long-term survival in increasingly competitive markets may be at stake,” wrote Nadja Kadom, MD, and Alexander Norbash MD, with Emory University and University of California, San Diego, respectively. “Making a business case is therefore important and needs to consider that the bottom line for financial prosperity is defined by financial gains from diversity that are offset by the cost of investing in diversity management efforts and by losses related to lacking diversity.”

Summarizing previous research on this topic, the pair offer four ways that efforts to hire and promote individuals of different races and cultures can translate to improved financial performance:

1) Increasing revenue: A 2019 study from McKinsey and company noted that organizations in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial performance above median levels, and 35% for those in the top quartile of racial and ethnic diversity. This could be attributed to an increased sense of affiliation and employee engagement, with the latter shown in previous studies to boost productivity.

2) Preventing loss: On the flipside, a lack of diversity and efforts to foster it can lead to an unsatisfied workforce, translating to higher rates of absenteeism and turnover, the authors noted. Both carry high costs for radiology practices and other businesses, totaling billions annually. Failing to foster a diverse workforce can also expose radiology practices to lawsuits or government action, the authors noted.

3) Augmenting adaptability: Radiology leaders who employ team members with varied backgrounds can also expect to stay nimble in the face of rapid change. Innovation and novelty are “in greater abundance” in healthcare practices that deploy individuals with an array of perspectives.

“A more diverse organization can call on a greater range of collective experiences and therefore a potentially broader range of applicable solutions,” the pair wrote. “This depth of collective experience allows the more diverse group to express a broader range of adaptive options and approaches in the marketplace.”

4) Securing talent: Finally, radiology practices that focus on increasing diversity can expect a boost when it comes to recruitment and retention. This could be achieved through offering programs that are perceived as favorable by the applicant pool, such as a “targeted recruitment program” to pinpoint certain skills or traits that include gender, race or cultural background.

“Diversity is an essential ingredient for a number of needs including competitive success, engagement, innovation and effective adaptation,” Kadom and Norbash concluded. “When given proper consideration, diversity becomes not only one of many initiatives but rather a fundamental and essential element in the structure of an ambitious and successful organization.”