Like many of you, I have always enjoyed the business aspects of medicine. Well, let me rephrase. I have always enjoyed some aspects of the business of medicine. Budget seasons and data analysis can be dry, and countless meetings with administrators are not exactly my favorite things in a day. But what I love is the ability to innovate, to influence a culture, and to move a needle on a broader scale. And I believe many of the small business/private practitioners, employed docs with hospital leadership positions, and academicians will agree with me on this point.
The Harvard Business Review is a wonderful publication that is a great source for innovation and best practices across all industries. A 2016 article, “Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter,” highlighted a 2015 McKinsey Consulting report on 366 public companies and the impact workplace diversity had on their production (Harvard Bus Rev. Nov. 4, 2016). The report found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to experience financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean.
Not only were diverse companies more profitable, but they were also smarter. Working with colleagues who are different from you often challenges your brain to overcome preconceived thought patterns. From jury selection panels to diverse stock management teams, the diverse teams outperformed the homogenous teams in every manner.
Separate studies have shown that diverse teams are more innovative. Investigators of a study published in the journal Financial Management studied the performance of 3,000 publicly traded companies between the years 2000 and 2014 across nine measure of diversity (Published online Dec. 18, 2017;doi:10.1111/fima.12205). They excluded Silicon Valley companies to avoid unfairly influencing the results. Companies that fulfilled all nine positive diversity requirements had on average two extra products in any given year and were more resilient in terms of innovation during the 2008 financial crisis.
Business has long known that a diverse workforce not only means greater innovation, but also tends to attract and retain more diverse talent. The authors talk about a “halo effect” in which diverse companies are not only more attractive to women and minorities but also to people who are in the majority but want to work for more “enlightened” or “progressive” companies.
This all brings us to our current issue of ENTtoday. I was fortunate to see and hear Dana Thompson, MD, deliver the Joseph H. Ogura Lecture at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Triological Society. Hands down, it was the most profound and impactful talk I have ever seen delivered at a national otolaryngology meeting. It gave me goosebumps, nearly brought me to tears, and has motivated me to try and be a better person. In her address, Dr. Thompson talked about the implicit and explicit bias she has experienced and overcome in her career. Reading about this will remind us all of how we are a better specialty with leaders like Dana as role models and colleagues.
Diversity of thought, mind, and body is also a key message in our second cover article. Over the past two years, otolaryngology residency programs have experienced something very unfamiliar: Multiple programs have failed to fill their positions. There are a multitude of reasons we can point to but, at the end of the day, it is my opinion that we have become too homogeneous in how our teaching programs have evaluated candidates for otolaryngology. We are all wise to remember the lessons successful businesses demonstrate: Diverse teams in thought, race, gender, and sexuality are more successful and innovative. Our great specialty should be no different.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to talking again next month.