Zach sits down with Anthony Herrington, chief diversity officer at Providence Health & Services, to talk DEI, healthcare, and leadership.
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(00:00): Yo partnership alert, partnership alert, partnership alert. Living Corporate has a partnership with LinkedIn Learning an American, massive, open, online course provider that provides video courses taught by industry experts across a wide array of subjects. Now, the partnership is because Living Corporate has courses on LinkedIn Learning focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion for leaders, career professionals, and anyone really looking to upskill themselves and be better allies. So make sure you check out our courses on LinkedIn Learning by clicking the link in the show notes. And let’s just say, you don’t want to do that, when you go to LinkedIn learning on LinkedIn search Living Corporate, we be right there. All right. Peace.
(00:59): What’s up y’all it’s Zach with Living Corporate. And, Hey look, it has been quite the year. I am thankful for a lot of things. I’m thankful for the fact that our network has continued to expand. We have new podcasts, we have new web shows. I want to thank all of our hosts. We have had some incredible partnerships between LinkedIn and Pfizer and LiveRamp, and a few others, Uncorked. We’ve had some really great opportunities to continue to grow as a brand. And I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for the impact that we’ve been able to create here.
(01:37): And, you know, as, as I think about this season, I know often I come on here and I articulate frustration with just the DEI industry and just the nature of white supremacy and oppressive systems And how they really do just exploit black and brown labor for profit. And, that hasn’t changed. That frustration hasn’t gone anywhere. I still feel that way. But that does not mean that I am not thankful. I don’t want anyone to think that, it’s impossible to hold two things simultaneously. I can be angry, and frustrated, at the nature and state of workplace equity, of organizational justice, or the lack thereof. And I can also be thankful for my family. I can be thankful for growth. I can be thankful for inroads that I’m seeing. The thing about it is y’all is that so many of those inroads and so much of that growth is so minuscule in the grand scheme of things, that I don’t want to give it too much sauce. Cuz there’s plenty of people out there that are gonna say, we’ve come a long way.
(02:46): There’s plenty of people out there that say we’ve made great strides. Like that narrative is out there. So if you want to hear that, you can go listen to any, you can go engage any platform and they’re gonna say that. I’m going to be pushing and challenging for us to push past what is largely theater. And a lot of this is theater. If you just look around, the hiring and placement of black and brown people in these frankly, rudderless and powerless positions that have no real authority, or leadership, or ownership over anything. These statements and these commitments that materialize often into nothing. And frankly, like just a lot of rhetoric in words, that sound really compelling to certain ears, but don’t actually lead to systemic or organizational change. And so, I’m gonna continue to push for that. Living Corporate will continue to push for that. The voices that you hear on Living Corporate from our guests to our hosts, to anyone really involved with us, engaged with us, they’re going to honor that. They’re gonna honor the reality of where we’re at and where we need to be going.
(03:55): So, I’m really excited. With all that being said, I’m really excited about the conversation I was able to have with Anthony Harrington today. Anthony Harrington is a chief diversity officer at Providence Health Systems. I’m really happy about our conversation. Really. And I told him, I think I told him like overall vibe was like, it reminded me of like some warm oatmeal. You know what I mean? Like just like he was real cool. He was real chill. Like it was a nice dialogue, a really good conversation. I think that it’s easy in these spaces to get worn down. And Anthony talked about this idea of stamina. Stamina is important. Stamina is really, really important and how, and where you recharge is important.
(04:42): It’s not just about if you recharge, but what fuel you’re using to recharge. And so, we all have different fuel. We all have different things that like really drive us, and get us going. It’s not, you know, it’s different for every person, but it’s important that that fuel makes sense for you. It needs to be sustainable for you. It needs to do right by you. If you look up and you’ve been driving for so many miles, and your engine’s all jacked up, but you were able to go far. I mean, how good was that fuel? It’s really important that we think about how we manage and take care of ourselves in this work. When I say we, in this context, I’m talking about black and brown diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders, or anyone involved in like, just like seeking to center and amplify marginalized voices, because there’s traumas that are inflicted upon us.
(05:36): I also think it’s important that we don’t shy away from the reality that, systems and people that inflict harm upon us, deserve to be held accountable for that harm. So often we just kind of like take punches forever. We sit around and we just kind of like namastae through it. And that’s not sustainable. That’s not honest. And that’s not honorable to your own body. It’s actually toxic. It’s a form of white supremacy. Like, okay, we just supposed to sit back and just take the harm. No, like we have a right to be advocated for, as much as we advocate for others. And so, as, and where you can look to advocate, look to seek advocates. Look to have people who are in your corner, who can speak up for you, who can pour into you, and who can challenge and push others back, as they’re harming you. Just as you seek to be that advocate for somebody else. Anyway, look, I’m really excited about the conversation if you can’t tell. Anthony Harrington, great guy. Thankful for our discussion. Before we get there though, we’re gonna tap in with Tristan. So I’mma see you soon.
(09:06): Living Corporate is brought to you by The Access Point. The reality is, this is the largest influx of black and brown talent corporate America has ever had. And as a result, a variety of talent entering the workforce are first generation professionals. The other reality, most of these folks, aren’t learning what it means to navigate a majority white workplace in their college classes. Enter, The Access Point. A live weekly web show within the Living Corporate network that gives black and brown college students the real talk need, and likely haven’t heard elsewhere. Every week, our hosts and special guests are dropping gems. So don’t miss out. Check out The Access Point on livingcorporate.tv.
Zach (09:51): Anthony, welcome to the show, man. How you doing?
Anthony (09:53): I’m doing great, man. So nice to be with you today.
Zach (09:56): Look, I’m a excited. We connected through a mutual acquaintance, friend, colleague. Let’s start with your journey though. Like how did you get here? Like when I say here, I mean, here can be as broad as you want it to be, man. Like, how did you get here?
Anthony (10:13): Yeah, man, my journey, you know, we all have our unique journeys. I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, you know, my people. And I tell folks like, we made it to even Alaska. Our folks came through South Carolina. Like many of our people did in the South, and navigated to Alaska. I was born and raised there, in a black culture. I played ball growing up, basketball. So I played high school basketball, won a few home state championship there. Played ball in in the North, in Missouri. Had family in St. Louis, so I spent some time in St. Louis, but navigated back to Alaska.
Zach (11:00): Now, do we talk about… Hold on now, cuz do we talk about what position? You like a combo, or you like a three?
Anthony (11:07): I was a point guard, bro. Played point guard.
Zach (11:11): You’re a pure facilitator or were you pure point?
Anthony (11:13): Pure point.
Zach (11:13): Okay.
Anthony (11:13): Yes, slash I’m six, three point guard. So I had a little size on me.
Zach (11:18): You was putting people on the rim? That was you?
Anthony (11:21): That was the game plan, always. Always.
Zach (11:24): You was jumping. You was dunking like in traffic?
Anthony (11:28): I wasn’t dunking in traffic. I was slashing, finishing.
Zach (11:32): Oh, you like penetrated. Like, okay, I got you.
Anthony (11:34): Yes. Dishing, hitting the mid-range jumper. I think when I played the three point shot was just coming into college basketball, but I was doing my thing. Absolutely. With the crew that did their thing.
Zach (11:50): Respect.
Anthony (11:51): Yeah. It’s interesting. I mean basketball, it’s sports. You know, a lot of learnings that I have today, I take from those days. How to coach, how to win, be coached.
Zach (12:04): Man. Like even, I was watching something, I forgot the coach’s name, but I was watching this video about passing the ball. And like half court sets, how passing the ball is what moves the defense, not necessarily dribbling. So I was watching this team and they passed the ball like 12 times. And you could see the defense, like just struggling, trying to figure out. And like literally, they might dribble like one or two times, Anthony, not a lot. And then they finally, [inaudible 00:12:35] open. So I hear you about like, just this. Like when I watched I’m saying what does that mean? What’s the work like? What’s the team application of that, like in, you know what I’m saying? Like in the corporate spaces, cause oftentimes you think about, when I think about hooping, I think about like, yeah, I’m gonna take you. [inaudible 00:12:48] at the top. Do my thing. Catch you one way. Maybe you do this, and maybe I dish.
Anthony (12:55): Right, right.
Zach (12:56): But, again, so I hear you.
Anthony (13:00): And you have it. It’s like, the other thing is you have it and you know what everybody else’s role is too. So, I think that’s the synergies with what we do in our day to day life. And, I think, just playing guard and playing point guard. I remember being held accountable for when other cats on the team weren’t in the right position. And so you start learning, not just your own role, but you end up being a coach on the court and knowing everybody else’s role as well. So I think it’s those type of lessons that stick with me today in how I work with teams, how I try to be a great teammate. There’s definitely some analogies there.
Zach (13:45): Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I mean, it’s interesting. And I say that, because I think it’s a really good opportunity as we think about this landscape is like, one, so much of DEI as I look at it, and again, I think generational context matters too. And I think if you talk to like the average millennial, and I mean, millennials are in their forties now. But if you talk to the black professional who’s in their late twenties, it’s a common sentiment that so much of this space right now is just so full of symbolic gestures. And not necessarily as focused on redistribution of power, or the redistribution of power by sharing information, upending systems, creating new policies.
Anthony (14:37): When you say sharing information, gimme an example.
Zach (14:39): Yeah. You know, I mean, just like, yo, what is our strategy for this thing? How are we building this? What’s the policy for this? How is x person gonna be held accountable?
Anthony (14:51): Mmm.
Zach (14:51): So, when I think about this space, I just recall, even before I came into this current role, which is exponentially more empowered here than I’ve ever been anywhere else, at Momentum. But, when I think about coming from consulting, most of those, the stuff was like, all the stuff around DEI was performative. It was like, Hey, we’re gonna have a heart circle, or we’re gonna write a blog, or we’re gonna make a statement. But we’re not gonna actually revamp our performance management strategy. We’re not going to do any type of salary corrections for folks who have been mistreated. We’re not gonna fire anybody for their racist behavior. And so, for me, as I think about that space, like so much of it is just for the look.
Anthony (15:40): Right. No, I think, well, that’s great context. No, for me, folks doing DEI with that context, we’ll be talking about this work to the end of the days [inaudible 00:15:55] tomorrow. I mean, the work has to be grounded in transparency and accountability. I’ll tell you how I think about it, and because when you say the term, DEI and what it will look like, it’s not just like the discipline it’s the approaches that people take. Right. Because it suggests that there might be some coaches out there, that could work. And one of the things that I’ve learned, and I learned this through, we were doing some partnerships with the Racial Equity Institute of North Carolina. Sister Dav [inaudible 00:16:35] does amazing work. And she has this metaphor around systemic racism. And you might have heard this. You and I, we look at a lake and we see a fish floating belly up, dead.
Anthony (16:52): You and I might look at that fish and be like what’s wrong with that fish. And we might try to find ways to treat it. Like if that fish was a kid in the education system, we might be, oh, that young man needs a mentor program, or something like that. And if the lake was the education system, in that metaphor, we come back and there’s a thousand fish floating belly up there. We’d be like, what’s wrong with that lake? And we’d be trying to fix the lake. And I think of the lake as systems. And so, for me, it’s about engineering a long game with this DEI work. Where we’re being transparent, and it’s built into talent systems where we’re holding leaders accountable. Like literally, like in performance management. Now, one thing about me, and, I haven’t always been a DEI professional.
Anthony (17:48): I’ve been in sales and operations. Is folks get paid, and get bonus, and have merit in those performance management objectives. And it’s surprising to me how many organizations don’t hold leaders accountable to be inclusive leaders. That aren’t holding leaders accountable to grow the diversity of their workforce to meet benchmarks that matter. Actually hold it and compensate them for them, when they do it. And, they’re held accountable when they don’t. I think those are the conversations that get toug when you try to do this work, but that’s the only way it’s gonna happen. When people are held accountable to it. You don’t see a lot of that.
Zach (18:31): Yeah. That’s and that’s my point. Is like [over-talk 00:18:33] doesn’t exist.
Anthony (18:35): Yeah. You don’t see a lot of that.
Zach (18:35): Yeah, that doesn’t happen. And so, that’s where for me, it’s like, eh. You know, I think about the last 18 months, a black man was murdered on camera, and a bunch of people got paid. A bunch of people got paid. Like influencers got paid, and authors, folks wrote books. And even folks who have no business, really being in this space, got whole new shiny titles. But I don’t see a lot of policy. And I also don’t see, even when you look at organizations and people who are in power, who could. That’s what I’m saying it’s like, shoot, there’s a handful of people.
(19:18): I’m gonna say exceptions to this, like Danny Gillery at Dropbox, Antoine Andrews at Momentum, Damian at Zoom. There’s a couple of brothers that I know, people that I know who sit in these roles, and who are really aiming to make like some sort of actual change, but most of these roles are just like, you would think that they would be empowered to create systemic policy changes. And we haven’t really seen that by and large. And like you just said, even like on just accountability, not necessarily you getting fired, just like…
Anthony (19:50): And some of these folks are hired into roles to just to say that they have somebody in the role.
Zach (19:57): For the look.
Anthony (19:59): Right. Some of them don’t sit at the table with the CEO.
Zach (20:02): Correct. Correct. Yes. They typically, a lot of them don’t even report to the CEO. They report to the VP HR, they report to the CHRO. They’re chief in title only. They don’t actually have chief responsibilities that’s not the case. But I’ll say this, it’s interesting. It’s like the stamina piece. I think the reality is when we were talking a little bit off mike, is when I make these statements, and even just the role that like black men participate in the patriarchy. Which genuinely holds back everybody, all black people. But those comments and those observations, it’s not necessarily like this just gasp of exasperation, Anthony, as much as it’s just more me looking at like the landscape.
Anthony (20:55): Yes.
Zach (20:55): And being like, yo, look, you coming on Living Corporate, we’ve got seven, 800 pieces of recorded media. I’ve had dozens of conversations. I’m looking at this and having discussions with folks all the time. So I’m just seeing this in a much, first, not compared to you, but to the average person, I’m looking at much more field than, you know what I mean? And so, I don’t know, man, I’m really curious about what the next, just what this decade holds. I just feel like things are coming to a boiling point. People say that often, but I don’t know. I don’t think like the way that we’re doing workplace equity, the way that we’re handling organizational equity, or even the concept of power and justice. I don’t see things continue the way they are, without something really big happening that’s gonna force some pivots, you know what I mean?
Anthony (21:53): Yeah. No, I think that’s fair, man. I think it’s fair. As my observation, if we just look at not just the conversations, but in the history tells us something. I think one of the things I remember, I think about this a lot, Brother, Dick Gregory. Dick Gregory died the day after the drama in Charlottesville, four years ago. And I remember, and this sticks in my head to this day. I was thinking to myself, this brother stood out there as an advocate for civil rights and justice. And his last thing he saw before the passing, is we dealing with the same madness [inaudible 00:22:42]. And that’s the truth. And it makes seem really hopeless. And I stay focused on just trying to make a difference brother.
Zach (22:58): No, I hear you.
Anthony (22:59): Yeah. And it is tough. And that question on, what will this look like? I don’t have a lot of optimistic on it, just generally, out there in the society that we live in. I believe that people can make change in their networks. We can make change when we do this work right, to your point, those organizations that know what they’re doing, you gave us some examples, there’s a handful of those out there. But we have a lot of work to do. I don’t think we do it in a silo either. I think we create greater change when we come together and create alignment
Zach (23:39): A hundred percent. And I think like some of that though, like that scarcity mindset of just not wanting to collaborate, and really build something, some of that has to.. So, to me almost goes back to a question of like, what’s your actual motive? Because I have talked to organizations that are looking to they’ll create different media, like DEI-related content and they want to create it, not for altruistic purposes really, but like as like an asset to help promote whatever. Whatever the case is. But it’s more like a brand play than it is like a true social impact play. And so, I hear you, I agree. I’m looking forward to, again, like I said earlier, alluding to my job, is what’s exciting about the pivot I’ve made and kind of getting away from where I was, is that I do feel like I actually have some type of say power to do more of that. Rather than just kind of like performative symbolic stuff. Which is, again, those things over time are draining. To your point though, you’ve been an executive leader for several, several years. You’re a chief, you’re a chief officer now at Providence Health and Services. It’s been some time, I’m curious, how do you navigate and pour back into yourself in this work. What does that look like for you?
Anthony (25:13): This work, like I was sharing, I haven’t always been a DEI professional. I worked in sales as a sales leader at Pepsi. And I really ground myself in being an enterprise leader. So, not just around sales, I would bring the entire organization along to drive value. And that’s when I first started doing DEI work as a volunteer, joining a number of DEI committees. And when I joined, I started working at Nike after that, and I was doing operations, more supply chain work, Zach, but still with that kind of enterprise mindset and I started doing work with their DEI teams. So one of the things that I I tried to do is, even though when I took the DEI, started doing the DEI work, I kind of kept the operational approach.
(26:10): Working on big projects, it required change management. It was important for that work to be embedded in all things that we did, our communication, our brand, how we showed up in our community. And so, as I thought about the DEI work and how to apply that same operational mindset to that work, I brought that along with me. So some of the, I know how we were talking about DEI, while I wasn’t a ‹chief’, didn’t have ‹chief’ in my title. When I first got into DEI, was cutting my chops, if you just saw me roll, and saw how I handle my business and the leaders that I got in front of, you probably wouldn’t know it. So I always try to roll like an enterprise leader, represent myself that way. And as I continue my own development, and help people that are looking out for support and guidance with their own development. I roll like that.
(27:08): So now I’m a chief diversity equity and inclusion officer, those days where I was looking at my boss and man, I sure wish that person would’ve went here, with the CEO, and really been bold, or really wished this person would’ve taken this approach. Only thing that’s different now is I don’t have that layer in front of me. And I get to actually highlight some things, take some approaches. One of the things that I did when I shut it down and just really retired from corporate, I did that for a few years and started doing some consulting work. It was a great place for me to treat this work like a petri dish and really just focus on, for me, it’s like there’s a couple approaches. Those ad hoc initiatives or standalone projects, like a recruiting initiative here, start a ERG there, some training.
(28:03): You know, that’s good work that doesn’t have staying power. And so, really shifting from that approach to more engineering the long game, that’s how I really try to stay focused in this work. You know, Zach, it’s really insidious of how systemic racism is in those systems we talked about, and it’s there because of programs and policies over hundreds of years. Real hard, real hard to unwrap. So, one of the things I stay grounded in, and I hope, I pray that this approach works, is like when we put good, equitable programs and policies in the system, like in those virtual four walls that we’re talking about, like when I walk away from the work, I want it to be hard to unravel. I want to embedded in the talent systems, the performance management systems, built into the company’s corporate strategic plan, how we compensate leaders. That’s how I think about the work, and kind of do the work where that work impacts our employees so they can feel it from a pay equity perspective. They feel like they’re in a place where they belong, but also set up the long game. So it’s there and it’s always taking, going to the next level, year over year over year. That’s how I think about the work.
Zach (29:29): You know, you said ‹the work’ a few times, and we’ve been talking about the work at large. Let’s talk about Providence Health and sServices. It’s been over half a year now. Why this role, and why now?
Anthony (29:41): I was telling you, I was just doing consulting work. Yeah, I shut it down. I had no plans. That’s 30 years, actually. 15 Pepsi, 15 [inaudible 00:29:50] and I had some health challenges, Zach. I was battling cancer. I got on the other side of that. I was [inaudible 00:29:56].
Zach (29:57): Praise God.
Anthony (29:57): Yeah, thank you. Thank you. I was doing consultant work and, couple of things. One, just watching the sacrifice of caregivers across the countries navigating through this COVID drama. And just seeing it, seeing the disproportionate impacts to our people. I started having a different perspective on this work in the healthcare realm. Actually had a small health care client. And Providence hit me up. I actually had a note in my LinkedIn that was sitting there for a month, to help Providence Anchorage with launching their DEI strategy. And so, I followed up.
(30:41): I was born in this hospital. All my kids were born in Providence Anchorage. My in-laws live up the street from that. And that prostate cancer I talked about, it was bad and my life was saved at Providence St. Vincent’s Hospital here in Portland.
Zach (30:58): Wow.
Anthony (30:58): After I helped Providence Anchorage with that, I didn’t realize that a number of senior leaders in the organizations was on that webinar I put on. So they hit me up and they recruited me. And for me, it’s like the cherry on the sundae, if you think about it. For me, somebody’s passionate about making a difference, and making an impact on this work, to be able to do it, and also be able to promote health equity, and address health disparities in this work. It’s like, I couldn’t really miss out on that opportunity. It fit my sweet spot. I was working for the CEO which is super important for Providence, Oregon.
Anthony (31:38): It’s a large system. So I worked for the Oregon region, but I felt like it’s an opportunity for me to make an impacted, in a different way. And that’s what led me to Providence. And, like you said, I’ve been here seven months, new to healthcare. And so, at Providence, in some of my research, before I took the job, there was a standing commitment to health equity. Some of it was inspired about those events from last summer. A commitment to really get after the ability to acknowledge that systemic racism exists. They were clear with it, they put a dollar commitment to actually make a difference and foster community health and wellness in a real specific way. So, being able to help them with amplifying that work to ensure that we are fostering cultural competency across the organization. Including with a patient-facing caregivers, ensuring that we’re putting; same work, that I’m sure you’re doing where you’re at.
(32:39): How do we ensure that we are looking at putting metrics in place to grow the diversity of our workforce, and our leadership? And so, no different than many organizations, we have lots of opportunity to really do what we said. You said something that really resonated with me. It’s how organiz put social impact strategies in place and around brand building many times. And for me, one of the things that I think is super important for those organizations is it’s not just about what you do or what you talk about. People wanna know what are you doing in your organization?
Zach (33:20): Right.
Anthony (33:20): What are you doing?
Zach (33:21): Correct.
Anthony (33:21): Yes. What are you doing to close the wealth gap to ensure that you have black folks and other folks that are disproportionately marginalized in leadership positions [inaudible 00:33:32]?
Zach (33:33): Right.
Anthony (33:35): And I think that’s a gap I see a lot of folks will, and you’re probably seeing it now. I haven’t even looked on how many organizations are speaking out on, you know; I’m sure they’re out there, cause we know the cycle. It’s important that organizations do the work internally as well.
Zach (33:54): A hundred percent. Yeah. I mean, I’m right there with you. Speaking to your point though, around this space, this unique opportunity and that’s a beautiful story. Again, I thank God that you’re here. I’m glad that you’re here. I’m thankful that you’re here. That is no joke. And the fact that the prostate cancer, like, that’s something that has disparate impact on black men, more than other populations. Which is not, aggressively discussed enough. Like I remember even at my church andthis was, I was 29 at the time. And it was like a whole event, where it was all these men were coming and they were getting; it was like a like a drive, I guess, to encourage black men to get exams.
Zach (34:49): Because of just the age that we can succumb to that is much younger than our white counterparts, and just stuff. You know, you don’t even even think about it and say, well, the study is this. I say yeah, but that study, that population that you studied was mostly white population. So it’s just not the same. So anyway you know, that kind of leads me well into the next question. As we talk about diversity, equity, inclusion in healthcare, it feels like a lot to wrap your arms around, for me. Someone who’s sitting outside of the healthcare space. Of course there’s a matter of equity for your own employee, DEI for your employees. But then there’s also like the concept of equitable care, which you’ve alluded to earlier and that being a major gap from the inception of just like the American healthcare system. How do you tackle both of those worlds simultaneously? You talked about this inside out approach, but I’d love to hear more about like, even just as you think about the space, and it just feels like a lot. Am I overstating it?
Anthony (35:47): No, no, you you’re not. It is a lot. And I’ve been in healthcare for seven months. So you know, my eyes are like blown. It’s real sobering. You know, yeah, outside of healthcare, in my prior jobs, one of the things that really fueled me in the work is, doing this work to actually close the health gap. Cause if you just think about part of it is that we are in low compensation jobs, in aggregate. And so, a lot of my work was grounded in that, helping people navigate those conversations with the [inaudiblw 00:36:26].
(36:27): Now it’s different consequences. We’re talking about our health, our lives. And so, one of the things that I’ve learned about this work in this short time is the opportunity to foster health in the population, before they ever come to acute care facility, hospital, or a clinic. So this investment in community health and wellbeing. And so, one of the things I’m really happy about our work and if you’re looking at a really fully loaded end-to-end DEI strategy, how we show up and make strategic community partnerships in the communities we serve is super important. So one of the things I’ve learned, you know this, is the social determinants of health.
Zach (37:16): Yes.
Anthony (37:16): Why is this happening? Food security, access from a transportation perspective, healthcare. And so, how we actually invest in community health and wellness as an organization is part of our strategy to actually really get after this in a meaningful way. It creates, it requires a need to create community engagement models with community business organizations that are supporting communities of color. So not trying to solve for it in the four walls of the institution, but actually solving for some of this with organizations that are actually supporting black communities, not next community.
Anthony (38:00): So, some of our work is really trying to get after it practically and real strategically. One of the things I’m super excited about here, and it’s just one example is birth equity. I’m super passionate about this world. My mom, my wife. I was talking to my wife about this [inaudible 00:38:19] you go back to when we had kids, and we knew the disproportionate impact the mortality rate of black women and their kids versus their white counterparts, what would you do? What decisions would you make, as it relates to your provider and your care? And we’d make different decisions. We’d probably be looking for a black doctor. And so, we’re doing some work from a birth equity perspective, partnering with communities of color and Providence leaders at the table with real skin in the game to address this, and takes action on birth equity. I have been in a few meetings, very powerful black organizations, doula-based organizations doing amazing work in the community. I think that’s one example of a number of different opportunities to get after this work. And of course, we have to do it with the institution as well.
Zach (39:13): You know, you wrote something, I either saw it on LinkedIn or on Twitter about the importance of empathy in leadership. And I’d like to understand if you have any perspective on the connection between empathetic and equitable leadership?
Anthony (39:29): Yeah. Well, one thing about diversity, equity, inclusion, I frame it up many times in two aspects. One is talent. We all about bringing in great talent. That’s one of the interesting things about this working DEI. The black folks and the people of color we are trying to bring in the organizations. They’re great and amazingly talented people that we’re missing out on. But it’s also around leadership, right. An inclusive leader is a great leader. And before I answer your question, I’ll give you this example. Something that always just bothers me. I was in this courageous conversations workshop with persons leading a police department here in Oregon. This is probably like five or six years ago. He’s telling me this story about his brother that had passed and he had taken in his teenage daughter. And she had a black boyfriend. And he was very open with the bias he had against a black person. And the things that he learned actually hanging out with his niece’s boyfriend. And he started realizing this was a good dude. And he is walking through the mall once with them and seeing how he was getting looked sideways. And he told me how much he learned through that.
(41:03): And this is my takeaway. I see this a lot. It’s like, it’s too bad that you actually had to have that experience to understand that he’s missing empathy. I actually, I don’t need to go through the experience. I don’t want anybody to have those examples. And so, I think of empathy as a leadership competency. I think anybody if you just put yourself in that position, it’s like, what would I be thinking right now if I was that person? It’s some simple concepts. And I believe that’s something to easily unpack. I think about that a lot, in terms of how we create and integrate this work into just leadership development programs that exist. Empathy is a competency that I believe we all have. Use it.
Zach (41:59): Yeah. You know, you talked a little bit about like this time, like you sitting in this chief diversity, equity, inclusion officer role at Providence Health and Services. The difference now is you have an opportunity to kind of take steps that maybe you couldn’t take before cause there’s a layer (excuse me). There was a layer removed. Right now, in the role that you sit, I’m curious, as you’re looking at the next 18 months, what are you most excited about?
Anthony (42:32): Yeah, man, I’m excited about making change so much. I’m doing some benchmarking, there’s this community clinic that supports, that sits right in a black community here in Portland. And so, we are doing some benchmarking. I was in there with the medical director. And she was telling us some work they were doing to close health equity gaps, specifically around hypertension and diabetes. And they had shared that in the patient population they have, they’ve actually closed the gap. And so, of course, I was like, what’d you do? I mean, how did you do that? And what she shared was, when you walked in here, Anthony. She shared and she was right, there was inclusive art and imagery in the building. Like you walked in there, it looked like a building in a black community. There’s black folks actually in, running the facility, they created a different model.
(43:33): One of the things that she shared with me, it’s all new insight if you could imagine on me, in healthcare. She’s sharing for folks whose numbers from a hypertension perspective were meeting a threshold that was okay. They were meeting with them to check up on them, like every six weeks. Those patients whose numbers were below the threshold, they were also meeting with them every six weeks. They changed their model. They’re like, you know what, if your numbers aren’t hitting the threshold, come back in two weeks. I want to follow up with you to get those numbers up, and to keep following up with you everu two weeks. And she was sharing with me how she closed the gap, and the amount of lives that that accounted for, just in her facility over the last 10 years, she said, we probably save 150 lives here.
(44:27): Wow. And that was really sobering to me. You know, I actually shed a tear. So you’re talking about what I want to see 18 months from now. I’ll share an example of some work we’re doing around equity. You know, metrix that matter in this space, we know that kind of in how we track culture and representation. But if you think about that, even in those examples, I’m looking to really contribute to the organization’s work in actually closing those health equity gaps. And start really building infrastructure where we’re creating change. So, before in my other corporate history, it was around that wealth gap, was something that really fueled me. Right now, I want to be able to walk away and say, man, we actually closed that gap 10%, 15%, 20%. Cause in my mind, I’m counting bodies, counting lives. So, staying grounded in that systemic approach, where it’s embedded in the system, hard to unravel and really measure what matters along the way, and really try to create change. That’s how I think about it. That’s what I’m hoping to get after.
Zach (45:41): Man. I love that. I love that. Look, man, it’s been a dope conversation. We could probably keep going to 30, 45, 50 minutes, but I want to respect your time. I told you before, I was gonna respect your time. Before I let you go, any shout outs or final thoughts you have?
Anthony (45:58): Man. Well, first I want to thank you. I appreciate it. And, I am like the product of so many different mentors and colleagues along the way. What I didn’t tell you is like those 30 years between Pepsi and Coke, 20 of them I worked for black folks. A really unique experience that I’ve had. So, I’m the product of that, and also the community that we have. So we go back and forth. But you are creating change also. And so, I want to give you a shout out, as well.
Zach (46:31): Oh thank you, man.
Anthony (46:32): And I think, one of the things about this work, Zach, by creating better workplaces, we are creating a better world. And it’s tough. As I was sharing, if we think like that, we can still create change.
Zach (46:57): I love it, man. This is very sober. You know, your [inaudible 00:46:59] is like, I don’t know what I want to compare it to. It’s like a… I know it’s very smooth and calming.
Anthony (47:06): My [inaudible 00:47:06]? What you said?
Anthony (47:07): Your [inaudible00:47:07]. Like your brand, how you show up, you know what I mean? Like how you do as you do, like how you showed up in this conversation. It kind of reminds me of like some warm oatmeal, you know what I mean?
Anthony (47:22): Huh? Now, there you go.
Zach (47:24): You know what I mean? It’s nice. Like, it doesn’t feel, it’s unassuming. It’s not like super aggressive. I feel like I show up a lot, like grits, but more like a hot sauce and shrimps in it. You know what I’m saying? Like, it’s just a lot. Cheese. Like it’s like, ooh, okay. It’s like [inaudible 00:47:38]. And so it’s nice. I wanna acknowledge that I really appreciate this conversation.
Anthony (47:42): Yeah.
Zach (47:43): And I hope that you know, everybody takes the time, click the link in the show notes, and learn more about Providence Health and Services. Make sure you click the LinkedIn link in the show notes and learn more about Anthony Harrington., who’s the chief diversity officer. Man, I just appreciate you. And look, you’re a friend of the show. I hope that you come back as things are popping off, and you’ve got things you want to talk about. Like come back. This is not a one and done thing.
Anthony (48:10): Yeah, man. I’m in the family. I look forward to that opportunity. I appreciate you.
Zach (48:15): All right, man. Talk to you soon. Peace.
(48:26): And we’re back. Yo, I want to thank Anthony Harrington again. Shout out Providence Health and Services. Make sure y’all check out the link in the show notes, learn more about Providence Health and Services. Learn more about Anthony. And look, if you haven’t already, make sure you tell somebody about Living Corporate. Tell a family member, especially come look this Thanksgiving, you know, the vaccine is out there. So people moving around a little bit more. I know I’m really excited. I’m gonna be hanging out with my family. Just really thankful to see everybody. I’m not gonna shout out nobody by name, cause I didn’t tell ‹em I was gonna do that, but really thankful to see my family. Thankful to see my mom. And you know, while you’re doing that, while you’re having your dinners and your conversation, just your community, your fellowship, let ‹em know about Living Corporate. I’m sure some of y’all gonna have some conversations, some racy conversations, or some challenging discussions, just, you know what I’m saying? Let ‹em know about Living Corporate. You know what I mean? Give us five stars in Apple Podcast. And we’ll talk to y’all soon. Peace