Health Care , Culture & the Family

Ray Carter | April 8, 2024

Oklahoma hospitals sign ‘equity’ pledge

Ray Carter

The Oklahoma Hospital Association and 13 Oklahoma hospitals have signed an “equity” pledge that suggests hospital leadership hires may be based on demographic data as much as, or more than, job qualifications and expertise.

In July 2015, the American Hospital Association (AHA) launched its Equity Pledge to Act Campaign. As part of that effort, hospital officials are encouraged to sign a pledge promising to increase “the collection, stratification, and use of race, ethnicity, language preference, and other socio-demographic data” and advance “diversity in leadership and governance.”

Critics warn that such policies, when put into practice, prioritize “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) metrics over providing the best medical care to patients.

The group Do No Harm is among those criticizing the pledge. Do No Harm’s website describes itself as representing “physicians, nurses, medical students, patients, and policymakers focused on keeping identity politics out of medical education, research, and clinical practice.”

In a post critical of the AHA’s equity pledge, officials with Do No Harm state, “Put another way, unspecified and unclear ‘data’ on concepts related to race, gender, and more are influencing hospital functions at these medical institutions. Since this statement is used by the AHA to gauge a hospital’s commitment to ‘health equity,’ it can reasonably be assumed that this variety of DEI is driving medical decisions under the guise of data-informed policies.”

According to the AHA, 50 state hospital associations have partnered with the AHA on the pledge, including Oklahoma’s association.

The American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity and Health Equity reports that 13 Oklahoma hospitals and systems, representing 7 percent of those entities in the state, have signed the pledge. However, the organization does not identify the specific Oklahoma hospitals that have signed the pledge.

‘Patients Will Bear the Consequences’

A series of studies by McKinsey & Co.—produced in 2015, 2018, 2020, and 2023—claimed to show statistically significant positive relations between industry-adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margins of large public firms and the racial/ethnic diversity of their executives.

Those studies have long been cited to justify prioritizing race, sex, and other factors in hiring as much as or more than traditional qualifications.

But new research, recently published by Econ Journal Watch, found those findings could not be replicated by independent researchers.

“In contrast to McKinsey’s results, the key finding of our study is that we observe no statistically significant difference between the likelihood of financial outperformance as measured by the industry-adjusted EBIT margin of S&P 500 firms during the years 2015–2019 in the top vs. bottom quartiles of S&P 500 firms ranked on McKinsey’s executive racial/ethnic diversity metric measured in mid-2020,” the Econ Journal Watch article stated. “Instead, we find that 54.0 percent of S&P 500 firms in the top executive race/ethnicity-ranked quartile have a positive industry-adjusted EBIT margin vs. 51.2 percent in the bottom quartile …”

Notably, the researchers reported that McKinsey “would not provide us with their detailed datasets, nor the names of the firms in their datasets” when independent reviewers began their efforts to replicate the firm’s findings.

Officials with Do No Harm warn the impact in the healthcare industry of pursuing “diversity” over expertise may be much worse than the reduced profits that can occur when that strategy is pursued elsewhere.

“As the AHA and hospitals across the country continue to dive into the muddy waters of radical ideologies and political activism, patients will bear the consequences,” Do No Harm stated. “Prospective doctors and nurses who are interested in delivering quality medical care will be crowded out by providers calling for more and bigger woke medical bureaucracies.”

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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