Healthcare Industry is Booming But Diversity Lags, New NAACP Report Finds

by April 10, 2015

Baltimore, MD – Today, the NAACP released findings from its Opportunity & Diversity Report Card: Healthcare Industry.  Details in the report highlight that while the industry is experiencing rapid growth there are key areas where the healthcare industry can improve diversity, in particular positions of leadership and contracting with minority owned businesses.

“The Opportunity & Diversity Report Card: The Healthcare Industry is the third in a series of NAACP economic report cards on corporate diversity and inclusion,” states Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman, NAACP Board of Directors.  “With the healthcare industry being one of the fastest growing sectors in the country, it is important for us to highlight opportunities in this industry and where we can strengthen people of color’s full participation.”

Read the report here.

The NAACP’s Report Card graded the six largest healthcare systems (Dignity Health, Tenet Healthcare, Ascension Health, Hospital Corporation of America, Catholic Health Initiative, and Community Health Systems). The highest score was a B and the lowest score was an F.

“Economic inequality will persist as long as equal opportunity for people of color in the United States remains an unrealized goal,” states NAACP President and CEO Cornell Williams Brooks. “The healthcare industry, however, can be a leader in reversing the tide. The healthcare industry will add nearly five million jobs with living wages and wealth generating opportunities over the next decade. The NAACP is excited to partner with the leading healthcare systems in connecting more communities of color to these opportunities and moving our nation towards achieving economic parity.”

The report card, which is based on 2012 data, reveals top management positions remain firmly dominated by white employees, despite the establishment of diversity and inclusion programs and a significant increase in minority college graduates entering the workforce over the past 20 years. The report also found poor performance in the area of contracting minority owned businesses.  Information submitted by healthcare systems during the survey period revealed that three of the six systems did not track supplier diversity spends and the remaining three indicated that they struggle with diversification in their supplier purchasing.

Major other findings of the report include:

  • For the foreseeable future, the healthcare industry in the United States is expected to be a significant source of well paid jobs, including a number of occupations which do not require a college degree.
  • Diversification of upper management remains a challenge, despite the long history of diversity in areas related to patient care.
  • Areas of the healthcare workforce which are diverse are under pressure to reduce costs through automation, closing off a critical pathway to skilled and leadership employment for diverse candidates.
  • The monitoring of procurement diversity is lacking or rudimentary at best, and reflects a blind spot that is more pronounced in the healthcare industry than any other the NAACP has surveyed to date.

“During this period of high unemployment and declining wealth, which is even more pronounced for African Americans and other people of color, Americans need living wage jobs with long-term career tracks,” states Dedrick Asante – Muhammad, NAACP Senior Director of Economic Department. “People of color are projected to be the majority of the nation’s population by 2043. Ensuring economic fairness and equal opportunity for people of color is imperative to strengthening our businesses and our global economy in the future.”

The NAACP’s Report Card graded the six largest healthcare systems (Dignity Health, Tenet Healthcare, Ascension Health, Hospital Corporation of America, Catholic Health Initiative, and Community Health Systems) on two main criteria: 1) workforce and job advancement; and 2) contracting and procurement.  Dignity received an overall B grade—the highest ratings out of all the systems while Community Healthcare Systems received an F grade for its failure to participate in the survey.


Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.  You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our five “Game Changer” issue areas here.

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