Lessons From a DEI Leader

Arianne Dowdell champions Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in her role as VP and Chief DEI officer at Houston Methodist. In this episode of “Leader to Leader,” Arianne shares her approach to comprehensive DEI programming, which not only targets workforce diversity and inclusion but also tackles health equity head-on by ensuring community access.

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As the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at Houston Methodist, Arianne Dowdell has been a champion for innovative DEI programming. On this episode, she defines DEI and explains how she uses data and dashboards to highlight progress against her team goals. Arianne also takes on critics of DEI through “conversation, not confrontation” to engage skeptics and turn them into supporters.

Key Takeaways

  • A strong DEI program can help address workforce shortages. Young people, in particular, seek out employers committed to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Mentoring is a great way to involve hospital leaders in DEI efforts. Arianne has had some pretty impressive mentors in her own life, including her parents and the attorney, Johnny Cochran.
  • Arianne stresses “having conversations, not confrontations.” Her willingness to meet critics head on and listen to them is a key to her success.
  • DEI leadership can be stressful and all-consuming. It’s important for those involved in DEI work to build support systems and find balance.

In this podcast:

  • [09:26] Building a great culture of inclusion necessitates working with the talent team to emphasize DEI initiatives right from the start.
  • [14:38] Building DEI programs requires staying on top of reporting program progress, acknowledging areas for improvement, and continually providing DEI education.
  • [21:36] Arianne advocates for healthcare systems that respect personal needs.
  • [24:41] Mentors that included Arianne’s parents and one of the most famous attorneys of all time shaped her compassionate leadership style.

Our Guest

Arianne Dowdell

Arianne Dowdell is the Vice President Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer for Houston Methodist. Arianne joined the Houston Methodist Hospital Foundation in July of 2019 and was appointed to her current role in September 2020. Arianne is responsible for leading the vision for unparalleled safety, quality service and innovation through diversity, equity and inclusion by stewarding system-wide DEI strategy implementation and development through key partnerships.

Prior to coming to Houston Methodist, Arianne worked in higher education where she was the Senior Director of Operations and Partnerships at Syracuse University. She also held leadership positions at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, Virginia and The Rockefeller University, in New York. She also served as the Communications Director and then President of the National Association of Black Automotive Suppliers. Arianne began her career in television where she worked at Court TV and Madison Square Garden Network.

A former attorney, Ms. Dowdell previously practiced as a labor and employment lawyer in Detroit, Michigan. She holds a JD from Wayne State University, an MA from Syracuse University and a BA from Hampton University.


Arianne Dowdell [00:00:00]:
I had one employee that said, you guys don’t have enough leaders of a certain gender and a certain race. And I said, do you have 20 minutes? And I pulled up the dashboard, and I was able to show that employee the stats, right? Because we have them. They come from our HRIS system. And I could sit down and the person said, I had no idea. And I said, well, thank goodness you asked, because now you can go and tell that to someone else from healthcare it leaders.

Narrator [00:00:25]:
You’re listening to leader to leader with Ben Hilmes. Our guest today is Arianne Dowdell, chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at Houston Methodist. In her time building up DEI programs at Houston Methodist, Arianne has demonstrated the transformational impact a healthcare organization built on diversity, equity and inclusion can have both on its workforce and its patients.

Ben Hilmes [00:00:49]:
Arianne, Ben Hilmes, great to see you, and welcome to leader to leader. Excited about this topic. It’s a big topic. DEI is probably a lot of misconceptions around it. And so hopefully today, through our dialogue around your role as vice president of DEI of Houston Methodist, and then understanding a little bit more about your career journey, our listeners will walk away with a unique perspective and some learnings that they can take with them. So, back to kind of the original point there. There are a lot of misconceptions around DEI. Each of those words, diversity, equity, inclusion, they’re all big words in and of themselves.

Ben Hilmes [00:01:36]:
We put them together and we create these roles. So I’d love to hear how you define it and how you describe it to others.

Arianne Dowdell [00:01:45]:
Sure. So, I think at its core, diversity, equity, and inclusion, those standard textbook definitions of what the words are, really is truly the same. So, when we think about diversity, I always say to people, we’re all diverse in some way. Sometimes people think of it just as race based or just as your gender, but there’s so much more to it, right? We think about socioeconomic status, we think about religion. There’s a lot of different components to it. So that piece of diversity stays the same. From a healthcare perspective, when we talk about equity, we’re thinking about our employees, right? So making sure that they have equitable opportunity in the workplace, so that’s growth, right? That’s making sure their relationships with each other, working every day remains the same. And then the equity side for our patients, making sure that we give our patients what they need to have the best health outcomes, is truly at the center of everything that we do every day here.

Arianne Dowdell [00:02:38]:
And then inclusion is just that inclusivity part which manifests itself in so many different ways. So I think the textbook definitions for DEI remain the same, but I do think a lot of the outside noise that we’ve had politically over the past year have kind of jumbled up what that means and who it’s applicable to, but it really is still the same for everyone. So I would say the definition is the same, but the application maybe has changed over the course of the past year as it’s evolved and manifested itself in organizations that have achieved higher length of time of DEI programming in their hospitals and corporate America nonprofit.

Ben Hilmes [00:03:15]:
You mentioned the word programming. When I was at Adventist Health on the west coast, we talked about leading with love. And you guys have a program at Houston Methodist, it’s called. So when I was reading about that and kind of learning, there were a lot of similarities. So I’d love for you to share about your program, because I do think these things have to be programmatic and systemic. Just having an office of DEI isn’t going to get there. So I’d love for you to talk about that program and how do you measure it. What do you think about when you think about success of the program?

Arianne Dowdell [00:03:56]:
So, just to take you back, as you mentioned, our eye care values, so those are at the center of everything that we do. On all of our name badges, it has I care. So you’re familiar with what each of those letters mean. So just to walk everybody through that. So the I and I care is for integrity, the c is for compassion, the a is for accountability, the r is for respect, and the e is for excellence. And so when I was brought into this role in 2020, there was really a nice foundation of expectations, I would say, right, of how we operate as an organization. So as we built the DEI program, which I did from the ground up, and was fortunate that I have a fantastic team of probably some of the most passionate folks about the work that they do. We knew that the center of our work was going to be framed around our eye care values, which a lot of institutions may have in theory, but not execution.

Arianne Dowdell [00:04:45]:
But I remember my first day at Methodist, people talked about eye care values, and so five years later, that’s what they still talk about. But when we think about what the programming is, we have a lot of different things we do. So if you hear about DEI programming in different institutions, you really need to be embedded into the departments throughout your organization to be successful. So I always say we don’t have to say DEI every day to know the programming and the work we’re doing behind the scenes is working. So we have a couple of things that we really focus on strongly. I can talk about a couple of them. One of which is one of the things we focused on going into this year is making sure that we’re hiring individuals that have both intellectual and developmental disabilities and working with organizations outside in our community because we talk about equity, but that means hiring different people of all skill sets and all levels. And so we wanted to make sure that that was something we focus on in all of our hospitals.

Arianne Dowdell [00:05:35]:
So we’ve launched that programming with best buddies of America. We also partner with our spiritual care department. So we have a large spiritual diversity series which is quite popular here, where we learn about different religions, we learn about religion as it relates to diversity and inclusion for our patients and our employees. We also do things like we’re part of our new leader orientation. So we spend a third day of our new leader orientation showing how DEI works within our eye care values and those expectations of our employees. How that manifests itself as a leader, that’s really important to know. We also have an employee resource group, so I’m sure you’ve probably heard quite a bit about those in the past. We have more than 2500 employees that have joined in the past two and a half years, our ergs.

Arianne Dowdell [00:06:20]:
So we’ve surpassed what the normal rate of participation is for Fortune 500 companies. And so we have ten ergs. And our ergs do a lot of great work, not only with mentoring and professional development, but now they’re doing a lot with our community benefits office and working out in the community and doing work. So that’s part of, again, when we think about our expectations for our employees and giving back, that’s all part of it. Let’s see, what else do we do? We also have educational programming. So we used to call it training. And I quickly learned that when you say train, Ben, people feel like they might be doing something wrong sometimes. Whereas I want people to become educated and to learn and want to be self learners on how we can all improve ourselves every day.

Arianne Dowdell [00:07:05]:
So now we don’t say training. We have a fantastic team of three trainers that teach educational learning.

Ben Hilmes [00:07:10]:
I love that.

Arianne Dowdell [00:07:11]:
Yeah, so those are just some of the things that we do. We stay very busy, we have a team of ten and continue to grow. And so part of what I’ll probably talk about at some point also are our health equity efforts as well. So we are diversity, equity and inclusion. And so that equity piece is also one of the major things that we’re focused on as well as in our department.

Ben Hilmes [00:07:31]:
Well, I am going to steal that shamelessly go from training to educational programming. It does make words matter, right? So I think that’s really important. And then the unique challenges you have in Houston is one of the most diverse communities in our country. The challenges you have are, I think, on a scale that maybe others don’t have. So big, big job. One of the things you’re not immune to is workforce challenges, shortages, skills, et cetera. I believe, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it, that a strong DEi programming and kind of immersion in your helps create a competitive advantage for you in the marketplace. Talk to me about how you leverage your work and working with your leadership to really differentiate you to be more attractive and how do you better retain associates.

Arianne Dowdell [00:08:30]:
Yeah. So when I started out in 2020, I was a team of one before I hired the first set of employees that joined the team about February of 2021. So it was just myself. But one of the first things I actually asked was that we have a presence on our Houston Methodist website, and I didn’t know whether or not that would be received well, but thankfully, it was. And I was allowed to make sure that we had a page where people could look to see what our commitment was to DEi, and we’ve actually built that up. I will say people notice that younger generations pay attention to whether or not organizations have DEI programming, and that manifests itself in different ways for different people. But we found right away we were getting feedback that people noticed that simple landing page when they scroll down to the bottom of our Houston Methodist website. We’ve actually extended that.

Arianne Dowdell [00:09:15]:
And so we work closely with our talent acquisition team, and they have a page that shows our commitment to DEi, that talks about those employee resource groups, that talks about our mentoring programs, that talks about all these different things. We do. Not everything has to say DEi, but we work, again in partnership with a lot of these departments, and we get feedback from employees that seeing that, knowing that commitment is very important to them as they’ve joined the organization. And so it’s great that we had it early on, before it was necessary, but it is what people say they look for. People look for. Can I go to a company where I can grow? And how does that manifest itself? Do you have leaders that are engaged in mentoring? We have something called mentor match that we utilize here where leaders get partnered. It’s almost like a dating site in a way, right, where you put what you’re looking for from a mentor, and then they match you up with a leader to see who is that best partner that you can have. And so having leaders that can speak to potential candidates about.

Arianne Dowdell [00:10:12]:
There’s opportunities to get that one on one relationship with a leader. That’s what folks look for. And so there’s a lot that we’ve done to make sure our presence is known. We also have specialized series that we’ve done with talent acquisition. So we did one for veterans, we did one for persons with disabilities and other programming, where we put it out on LinkedIn. And we advertise for potential candidates to come and be able to speak to not only myself and other leaders in those areas, but employees that maybe fall into those protected groups. And that’s actually been a hit as well. We’ve hired many employees as a result of those.

Arianne Dowdell [00:10:45]:
So that’s DEI in action. When people ask, what does it look like? For me, that’s what I would say. That’s where we see our wins, when we have those targeted, focused events, conversations, outreach and presence that lead to a culture, the eye care culture that we talk about, that people want to stay here for years and years. So it works.

Ben Hilmes [00:11:02]:
Wow. Well, with your scale, just being able to connect everybody to somebody.

Arianne Dowdell [00:11:07]:

Ben Hilmes [00:11:08]:
And that the connection is there’s an actual algorithm to it. I love that. Certainly would create opportunities for higher degrees of success. So I love that. Let’s talk a little bit about. You mentioned health equity earlier. We all have inherent biases and a lot of focus and attention on uncovering bias in the actual healthcare delivery aspects of your organization. Talk to us about that.

Ben Hilmes [00:11:37]:
What are you guys doing? How are you tackling that challenge? Because I know it’s a passion of yours.

Arianne Dowdell [00:11:41]:
It is. It’s a passion of mine personally and professionally. For a number of reasons, health equity is really difficult to tackle. I’ll say that everyone thinks there’s kind of like that magic pill, like the Ozempic Right. For example, that if everybody could take it or get a swallow of it, health equity would be solved. That’s just not the case. And so there’s a couple of different things that we’ve done here.

Arianne Dowdell [00:12:02]:
We started working on about two years ago. I didn’t start during COVID because I wanted clinicians to be part of this effort. So the first thing we did was I started a health equity committee. We have about 20 individuals that are part of it. They’re both clinicians and non clinicians because I wanted to have a balance. And we broke that group up into subcommittees. We talked about what are areas that we really want to tackle over the next year or two that start to address health equity. So we started out with three different groups.

Arianne Dowdell [00:12:27]:
The first was patient population group where they looked at revisit rates in the ED to look at those patients that are coming in more than 20 times a year, and how do we make sure we’re improving their care so they’re not coming in that much? And Houston Methodist, if people are familiar with it, there’s many hospitals around here. So that’s a partnership that’s done with some other hospitals because someone could be here one day and go to another hospital the next. So it doesn’t change. We want their outcomes to still be improved. The other thing that we look at are also, some people call it social determinants of health. We don’t. We say social drivers of health. So we’ve looked at that.

Arianne Dowdell [00:13:01]:
We’ve created dashboards to start looking at patients coming in based off of the wheel that many people are aware of before this was mandated by CMS. Now that has come about, so we can track our patients, refer them out to some of our community partners, and now we’re looking at those folks that we have sent out to the community. How often are they coming back? Are they coming back and still saying that they have these factors and they’re impacting their health? So that’s one of our groups. We also have a group that is called our SPG and PCG groups, or that’s our specialty care and our primary care groups. They looked at colorectal screenings to see do disparities exist? Are people being recommended equally for colorectal screenings of that? How many of those folks are actually going for screenings and what are their health outcomes? So we’ve built dashboards around that, and now we’ve actually added for this year managing access and readmission and literacy, because that’s a huge part of health equity, is people understanding just their health in general when they need to get screened, what the screenings mean. And so we’re putting a lot of money and time behind making sure we’re focusing on the literacy of our patient population. So that’s one group. And then in addition to that, we actually have a cancer center research health equity group that’s looking at making sure we have diversity in our clinical trial, diversity among our researchers, diversity for our community, access areas that we go to.

Arianne Dowdell [00:14:23]:
And so I wanted to make sure we’re looking at this from a lot of different angles. Again, this is kind of just the start that we have, but with some of the requirements from CMS mandates that we have to report out, that is actually going to be a lot easier for us because we’ve built some things already in that we’re doing. But I do think it’s really important that we report what we’re doing well, but acknowledge where we need to work in certain areas, and that’s where that education piece also comes on. So we’re also working to educate all of our physicians. So we have a goal of educating more than 70% of our physicians on physician communication. And so we don’t need to call it physician bias communication. Right. Like, that communication piece is really important.

Arianne Dowdell [00:15:01]:
And so we’re working with quality and patient safety and our physicians organization and other groups to make sure that we touch all points of the hospital, whether you’re clinical or non clinical, in dealing with health equity. Because at the end of the day, I say we’re like a ven diagram. We’re all connected with our community, our patients, and our employees. At the center of that is equity. And we have to make sure that we keep the patients at the center of everything that we’re doing every day. Wow.

Ben Hilmes [00:15:26]:
There’s a lot there. But what I love about that is you’re being data driven around this, and then you’re taking that information and putting it face up. And I’m a big believer that when you give good people good information, they’ll make good decisions and they’ll grow and they’ll learn. And we don’t know what we don’t know sometimes. So I love that you’re using data and information and sharing that openly to help bring people along. So that’s really walking away with a really good nugget there. I’m sure you’ve had some resistance. What you’re doing is really hard, right.

Ben Hilmes [00:16:07]:
It’s not a cakewalk. You have a really hard job, a big job. And so how do you deal with the challenges you’re faced with every day from people who may resist some of the things you’re trying to get done? How do you work through that?

Arianne Dowdell [00:16:27]:
I will say at Houston Methodist, I haven’t had that resistance from leadership, which has been fantastic. I think there’s more of a curiosity. I think having conversations like this is so important for people to understand what we’re doing. One of the first things that I tell people is we never have, even before I started, done anything that’s been based on quotas. And I know that for some companies that has worked. So I would never dismiss anyone that’s done it. I’m a former lawyer. I guess I’m just mindful about that stuff, got worried that it could come back to bite us if we ever took that track.

Arianne Dowdell [00:17:00]:
So I’m happy that we didn’t. But I always encourage the conversation. And I show people data, as you said. So we’ve built dashboards where I can talk about the work that we’ve done, and I can talk about our succession plans, and I can show terminations of employees and where people are thriving. So for me, being able to show that data is very important to people that kind of question the work that we do, because then it’s not about Arianne Dowdell. Right. It becomes about the institution and what the institution is doing. Right.

Arianne Dowdell [00:17:29]:
And what the institution can do better. So I actually welcome the conversations. I’ve had one employee that said, you guys don’t have enough leaders of a certain gender and a certain race. And I said, do you have 20 minutes? And I pulled up the dashboard, and I was able to show that employee the stats, right. Because we have them. They come from our Hris system. And I could sit down, and the person said, I had no idea. And I said, well, thank goodness you asked, because now you can go and tell that to someone else, right.

Arianne Dowdell [00:17:57]:
And so, at the end of the day, I think people really just want to be heard. And I’m okay if people don’t get excited about the work that I love to do every day. But what I want is maybe a leader that doesn’t care about DEI so much, making sure that they’re giving an equitable opportunity to somebody that deserves it. So that is DEI. So that’s what I care about. At the end of the day, if you don’t need to go to my training, I’m okay, as long as nobody complains that you haven’t paid attention to every candidate. So it manifests itself differently. I say these conversations, I say it to everybody.

Arianne Dowdell [00:18:29]:
A confrontation and a conversation are two very different things. I’m open to having any conversation, but I’ll never have a confrontation about the work that I do. We have difficult conversations every day with leaders, with physicians, with employees. I’m a neutral party, so it’s not about my opinion. Right. It’s about how do we get to a better outcome? So, actually, I’m okay with that. I’m okay with having those conversations. Hopefully that I can change somebody’s mind to understand the need for why our department exists here at Houston Methodist.

Ben Hilmes [00:18:57]:
Wow. You almost had a judo move there where you used their strength against them. That’s interesting. I love that part of it is just leaning into it. You have to meeting them where they are and their understanding, and then helping them move to a more informed space. Really neat. You mentioned something that allows us to pivot here to career, because part of every one of these leader to leader podcasts, we talk about leadership, and you have a very interesting career path. And career paths interest me.

Ben Hilmes [00:19:33]:
It’s like you start in broadcasting, you go to law school, you practice law, somehow you make your way to healthcare, and then now you’re in DEI, leading a very complex, large scale organization on that journey. Unpack that. That’s an interesting career path.

Arianne Dowdell [00:19:54]:
It’s not normal. When people ask me, I’m like, ooh, do you want to? Um. I actually planned to be a sportscaster. I sportscasted through. It was truly my passion. I’m from New York originally and had an opportunity to work in tv, so I worked at Court TV. Actually, shortly after the OJ Simpson trial, had an opportunity to work directly with Johnny Cochrane, who became my biggest mentors in life. And so he was the reason I went to law school.

Arianne Dowdell [00:20:23]:
I can say I never thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but he told me that I was going to grow older one day, and no one will want me to be on air, so you need to have a backup. And so I decided to go to law school, actually planning to own a WNBA team. I never wanted to practice, but I went on to do labor and defense work for a while, and actually ended up working for the National association of Black Automotive Suppliers. So that was really my first opportunity, kind of getting up and representing folks that didn’t have the same opportunities in Detroit. So my role was to work with the big three and work with suppliers to help them get opportunities. And so I’ve really been doing this type of work for quite some time now. I ended up going into higher education for about a decade, and my last role before coming here to Houston Methodist was actually at a university where I advocated on behalf of black and hispanic students to make sure they had opportunities, both as students as well as alumni. And so the work that I do has kind of been like a culmination of what I’ve been doing over the years, but now I get to do it every day is what I do all the time.

Arianne Dowdell [00:21:29]:
I am a child of a father that passed away from Alzheimer’s, a mother that had cancer, I have a daughter that has a disability. And so, for me, when I say it’s personal and professional, I see both sides of it. I see the need as a leader, but I also see myself as a parent that hopes that as my daughter gets older and she has needs, she’s going to be in a healthcare system that respects her and sees what she needs as a person with a disability. Right. Or a mother and a daughter that took care of her parents for 13 plus years and had to navigate the health care system with. Even though I had a father that worked in healthcare, you still have to have a ton of knowledge to be able to navigate that system right from start to finish. So, for me, my career has been a huge part of it, but that personal side as well has made doing my job every day, I would say probably a little bit easier in some ways because I’ve been through it and I still go through it all the time.

Ben Hilmes [00:22:23]:
That’s interesting. I mean, you’ve taken your passion inside of any kind of role you’ve ever had, and I would characterize you as a lightning bolt change agent that’s used the platforms that you’ve had to really drive meaningful change. So congratulations on that. That’s really cool. So you mentioned Johnny Cochrane. He was a mentor. How crazy is know in that sense. But I think mentorship know an incredible thing in a person’s career.

Ben Hilmes [00:22:59]:
I’ve had some incredible mentors along my path, obviously. Johnny Cochrane to you, great mentor. Do other mentors come to mind? I mean, specifically in your career path that helped you kind of along the way? I’d love to hear about those.

Arianne Dowdell [00:23:15]:
Had a. I still speak to her. Her name is Martha. When I lived in Richmond, Virginia, and knew that I really wanted to delve into a bit more for myself from a leadership perspective. And she was the person that really got me fired, know was the woman that said, you don’t have to be the quietest person in the room all the time, and helped me navigate what was a difficult situation at times, trying to be a black female, trying to go into leadership, and this was a white female that guided me through my career. And so I’m deeply indebted to Martha for just kind of showing me how to be tough and respected. Right. So I think it’s very important to be liked, but at the end of the day, I think it’s more important for someone to respect you.

Arianne Dowdell [00:23:58]:
And so I had to learn that over the years, and I did learn that from. So, you know, I had the feisty side of Johnny. I had a Martha, and then I had my parents, quite honestly. My father was a lawyer, also worked in healthcare and human resources. And so I saw how he treated when we think about our eye care values and we say here at Houston, Methodist. Every person is a person of sacred worth. I would watch my father walk through the hospitals at Sloan Kettering in New York, and I would see my father speak to everyone. As an executive, there was not one person that he didn’t speak to, and that always resonated with me as I came up through leadership, was making sure that I recognized everyone and the importance everyone plays.

Arianne Dowdell [00:24:38]:
And my mother was the same way. She was an educator, and so she always taught us to be very curious and to make sure that we learn something every day and that we grow every day. So I was fortunate that I had parents that were my mentors that I genuinely liked as people, aside from having great parents. But there’s definitely been people I’ve watched along the way. And I sometimes say, like, your mentors are sometimes the bosses you don’t want to be, right. Because you learn what you don’t want to do. So I’ve had a couple of those, but I’m thankful that I had those opportunities because I think it made me a bit more compassionate towards others. Right.

Arianne Dowdell [00:25:11]:
And giving people grace. And so I’m fortunate that through my career, with all the twists and turns, I’ve had some really great people in my life. I wouldn’t change a thing, as nutty as it’s been.

Ben Hilmes [00:25:22]:
No, that’s awesome. That is really awesome. So just being able to want to observe your parents from a very early age and watching them interact and onto getting a little fire in the belly from Martha and Johnny, that’s really, really neat. I’ve had a lot of great mentors as well, and each of them just play a huge role in my life still today, so I applaud that. That’s really great. Lastly, let’s land on something. There’s a lot of people that will listen to this that are considering a role in DEI or maybe want to get into DEI leadership. What would you tell them? Where do they start? What skills? Not everybody’s going to go from broadcasting to law to events to your path, but if you could tell somebody some advice on what they need to be thinking around that career path, what would it be?

Arianne Dowdell [00:26:17]:
I think you have to understand the landscape of doing this type of work. So most DEI officers don’t stay in their role for more than 18 months. I think that was the last thing I read because it is truly exhausting work. So I’ve definitely surpassed that. Right. Going into year four in my role. So I think you have to understand what comes with this. You have to have a passion for it.

Arianne Dowdell [00:26:39]:
You have to have a passion to drive change, but understand that it doesn’t happen overnight. And so I think you have to be realistic about goal setting leadership. So say you’re a one person shop that just wants to start something. Make sure you have your leadership. The board that’s committed to working with you. I have Dr. Boom. I have the board that I report to and others.

Arianne Dowdell [00:27:02]:
And so having their support makes it easier to get that buy in piece. And you have to constantly educate yourself. Going back to having those conversations, you have to know what people that don’t think like you are thinking. And you have to be okay with that. So you can build a team like I did, of folks that never had DEI knowledge. But I tell you, they’ve got a passion that you can’t beat, and they’re excellent at what they do and they’re constant learners. But I would say have a plan. What is that plan? Have buy in from your leadership and know that if this is what you want to do, you can absolutely do it.

Arianne Dowdell [00:27:36]:
But it takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of energy, just like any job. But you get pulled in different directions. And so finding that balance, you got to know when to turn it off when you leave at the end of the day, because it can become all consuming quite easily if you let it.

Ben Hilmes [00:27:50]:
Oh, I’m sure, yeah.

Arianne Dowdell [00:27:51]:
I mean, it’s just this chronic thing.

Ben Hilmes [00:27:55]:
With you all the time. And to be able to compartmentalize that, that’ll be our next podcast. We’ll talk about how do you do that? Because I think that’s a really hard thing to do, especially executives and leaders who are really passionate about what they do and how do you turn that off and create balance in your life? Well, hey, thank you so much. This has been wonderful. Really awesome getting to spend a few minutes with you. You have an incredible challenge. You face it every day with incredible energy and dignity, and I love that. So Houston Methodist is lucky to have you, and thank you so much for spending time with us today.

Arianne Dowdell [00:28:39]:
Thanks so much for having me.

Ben Hilmes [00:28:44]:
That was a powerful discussion with Arianne. She is inspiring, and her DeI program at Houston Methodist can be a model for others. Here are my top takeaways from our conversation. One, a strong DEI program can help address workforce shortages. Young people in particular, seek out employers committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Two, mentoring is a great way to involve hospital leaders in DEI efforts. Arianne has had some pretty impressive mentors in her own life, including her parents and the attorney Johnny Cochrane. Three, I love what she said about having conversations not confrontations.

Ben Hilmes [00:29:23]:
Her willingness to meet critics head on and listen to them is a key to her success. Four DEI leadership can be stressful and all consuming. It’s important for those involved in DEI work to build support systems and find balance. So what did you think? What were your big takeaways from the episode? I’d love to hear from you on our social media channels or drop me an email from our website@healthcareitleaders.com, until next time, I’m Ben Hilmes.

Narrator [00:29:51]:
Thanks for joining us. For leader to leader. To learn more about how to fuel your own personal leadership journey through the healthcare industry, visit healthcareitleaders.com. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any insights, and we’ll see you on the next episode.

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