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Penn State Health expands support of diverse workforce through Business Employee Resource Groups

Penn State Health’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has revamped its Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs) to better align with the health system’s organizational goals and diversity priorities. This includes a focus on improving employee engagement.

“Penn State Health is deeply committed to fostering diversity and inclusion as our workforce continues to grow more diverse,” said Lynette Chappell-Williams, vice president and chief diversity officer at Penn State Health. “These recent changes with the BERGS will enhance their engagement with our employees and advance community-building. One of the most significant changes is incorporating executive leaders as liaisons to the groups.”

Each BERG is developing an operating plan for 2024 focused on addressing the needs and inclusion of employees who are part of or support their group. BERG leaders and health system administrators will meet on a regular basis to advance initiatives that increase workforce diversity and improve employee engagement. They will also provide recommendations to the health system’s diverse patient councils to improve the experience of our increasingly diverse patient populations, Chappell-Williams explained.

In addition to the BERGS, Penn State Health offers the following resource groups to support diverse medical professionals:

  • Network for Under-represented Residents and Fellows
  • Black Physician and Professional Staff Association
  • Hispanic Professional Association
  • International/Foreign Born Professionals Network

Efforts are underway to establish an Asian Physician and Professional Staff Association that will begin meeting this month.

“The health system’s BERGs play important roles in supporting organizational effectiveness by representing our health system’s diverse populations,” said Chappell-Williams. “They help support employee engagement and create a sense of community. Ultimately, our BERGS support recruitment, onboarding and engagement initiatives specific to our diverse workforce.”

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center established the first BERG in 2010 for LGBTQ+ employees. Six years later, the health system established BERGs for military/veteran and multicultural employees and added disability, interfaith and next-gen (generations Y and Z) BERGS in 2017. In 2021, BERGs expanded to include Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin and Lancaster county employees.

Focus on enhancing diverse employee engagement

In October 2023, Jude McCrea joined Penn State Health as the program manager for diverse employee engagement. Her responsibilities include working closely with the BERGS and other diversity-focused resource groups and collaborating on existing engagement initiatives, such as surveys and stay/exit interviews, to help make Penn State Health an employer of choice for our diverse population.

In her role, McCrea will support the Diversity Council’s Excellence in Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion award and identify other opportunities to highlight acts of excellence in DEI in the workforce. She brings 14 years of health care experience and has successfully led initiatives in employee engagement and DEI.

“Our Business Employee Resource Groups and medical professional resource groups are just one example of how we work to engage with our diverse workforce and enhance a sense of community within our organization,” McCrea said. “The value Penn State Health places on diverse employee engagement is also highlighted through stay and exit interviews and the intentional preparation and action planning behind employee engagement surveys.”

Recognizing excellence in promoting diversity

The health system also fosters employee engagement by recognizing those who exhibit excellence in promoting diversity within our workforce and patient population. The Excellence in Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion award is presented every two months to highlight an employee who supports diversity in their work environment. The Diversity Council, which represents the entire health system, selects the honorees.

To learn more about employee diversity and inclusion, including BERGS and medical professional resource groups, employee resources and recognitions, email Jude McCrea or call 717-531-3088.

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