Director's Message

Sharonne Hayes, M.D., medical director of the Mayo Clinic Office for Diversity and Inclusion, shares her vision for diversity at Mayo; and offers insights about Mayo's efforts regarding the mentorship, development and preparation of diverse individuals for successful careers.

What is your vision for diversity at Mayo Clinic?

Encouraging and including contributions from diverse individuals is critical to Mayo's future. We will be better positioned to reach our full potential and to better serve our patients when we actively bring together individuals with diverse thoughts, ideas and backgrounds; and put them to work to help create better solutions.

If successful, Mayo will gain the strategic advantages of accelerated innovation, better problem solving, enhanced productivity and job satisfaction, improved quality and most importantly, will better meet the needs of our patients.

What are some of the challenges to being a diverse organization?

Mayo has not always been successful in recruiting and retaining a diverse work force. Once recruited to Mayo, women and underrepresented minorities have not progressed academically or into leadership positions at the same rate as others. In addition, our patient population does not reflect the changing demographics of the U.S. population. There are numerous factors that contribute to these issues and the solutions will be multifaceted.

Despite challenges, there are many bright spots and success stories we can build upon. Our Education shield has made diversity a priority, and their efforts have shown growth in recruitment and retention of minority students, and created an open and welcoming environment for students, faculty and staff.

Diversity leadership will need to not only engage and coordinate efforts among individuals and groups currently dedicated to enhancing diversity, but also to expand and fully develop an infrastructure of diversity activities across campuses and disciplines.

What does success look like?

Mayo has come a long way from the days when gender roles were traditional and racial and ethnic diversity didn't exist. But we continue to struggle with achieving a truly inclusive work force that reflects our patient population and our world. Our staff surveys indicate that many people don't feel comfortable "freely speaking one's mind." An important outcome of our diversity efforts will be successful mentorship, development and preparation of diverse individuals for leadership roles, and providing the best care to an increasingly diverse patient population.

What do you bring to the diversity table?

I have held several positions at Mayo charged with addressing issues related to recruitment, retention and professional development of women and underrepresented minorities, and have also been involved in these issues on a national level for several organizations. My personal experience has provided a perspective that I feel is useful to diversity leadership. In my first year of cardiology training, I was considered a novelty as the only woman in the entire training program, and cardiology remains a predominantly male specialty. For me, it has been important to experience the positive and powerful impact of women role models succeed in academic medicine and leadership here at Mayo. It sends a powerful message that one's success is not only possible, but that the organization in which that role model succeeded must have facilitated, or at least allowed, that success.

How do you see employees being more engaged in the diversity/inclusion efforts at Mayo?

It is not enough for individuals at Mayo to simply "support" diversity efforts, and it's not enough just to bring in diverse people. Where diversity will make a real difference in the care of our patients and to the future of Mayo is when those people are included — in discussions, leadership, planning, and work and personal relationships.

Often, we get into a routine and don't think about including others or asking someone new about their point of view. Ask your colleagues about their ideas on being more inclusive, both with co-workers and patients and visitors. There are likely many great ideas that can be put into action right away.