Women's Leadership

All the Similarities and Differences: Chief Diversity Officer Guwan Jones

The Baylor Scott & White Health executive talks diversity in healthcare.

Guwan Jones has a heart for the underserved. Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, home to fierce school integration battles in the late 1950s, gave her an understanding of the Civil Rights movement and inspires her work today. She oversees workforce development and diversity initiatives at Baylor Scott and White Health. “Diversity means all similarities and all differences,” she says. “It’s racial; it’s ethnic; it’s the first language you spoke; it’s your political affiliation; and it’s how you view the world. Although we teach a lot about cultural things, I make a note to help people understand that folks are individuals.”

What do you bring to your position?

“An understanding of underserved populations and the cultural competency that we need to have for our patients. My job is very varied, which keeps it interesting.”

How is diversity in healthcare evolving?

“There is under-representation of Hispanic and Latino [medical professionals]. We are in the state of Texas, one of seven that is majority-minority; yet when I look at our physician population, a large portion of them look alike. … Last year was the first year that 51 percent of the graduating college classes were female; we have to build more programs to support women in the workplace.”

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?

“That my core skill set is transferrable. I joined Baylor Scott & White Health nearly 10 years ago to work in health equity; fast forward to today, and I now work in human resources. I had no formal training in HR and my academic training and career trajectory really had no steps to ‘prepare’ me. However, taking on this new role helped me realize that my skill set was greater than I appreciated. I’ve learned you should always trust your ability to learn quickly and take chances. You don’t have to be 100 percent ready for that next position.”

What is the greatest challenge you face?

“The challenge for diversity officers right now is generational. There are so many generations in the workforce. We all want something different out of work, and we all want work to feel a little different.”

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