Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The case for focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workforce is threefold: It is, first and most important, a moral and ethical issue. Each person has value and should have equal access to training, employment and career opportunities in the behavioral health professions, and assistance addressing any barriers to those opportunities. The service case is that organizations with a diverse workforce will be better able to care for the diverse populations they serve. There is evidence, for example, to suggest that matching of client and provider characteristics may lead to greater adherence to treatment. Professionals from diverse backgrounds often bring valued expertise in developing and adapting treatments for diverse populations. The economic benefit derives from the fact that diverse organizations in which all are included and treated equitably have access to larger talent pools and thrive in the absence of discrimination in their workplace.
The Annapolis Coalition has focused on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion since its inception.
- In the inaugural national Action Plan for Behavioral Health Workforce Development, released in 2007, a panel of experts was convened to study and generate recommendations related to cultural competence and disparities in the workforce and in behavioral healthcare.
- In partnership with RTI International, the Coalition partnered for three years in the evaluation of the SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Program, working to identify its strengths and opportunities for growth.
- The Coalition has launched learning collaboratives nationally to address the recruitment and retention crisis in behavioral health, focusing those initiatives on strategies to find and keep a diverse workforce in more inclusive and equitable workplaces.
- Lastly, the Coalition has been a leader nationally in its focus on the direct care workforce, which is the most diverse segment of workers in the behavioral health field. It served as the behavioral health lead in the CMS-funded Direct Service Workforce Resource Center; facilitated a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant in Alaska to implement a work-based learning initiative with Native Alaskan direct care workers; led a major revision of the competencies for the Behavioral Health Aide Program of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; and guided a 10-year initiative to build the Alaska Core Competencies for Direct Care Workers in Health and Human Services, with related tools for training, supervising, and evaluating those competencies.