www.ohca.com FALL/WINTER 2020 The Oregon Caregiver 15 WHAT IS “DEI” AND WHY DOES IT MATTER? Although serving a more diverse range of clients may represent a legitimate market opportunity, making structural and programmatic changes that create a more inclusive and welcoming commu- nity can take considerable time and effort to achieve measurable results. DEI efforts also need to recognize the importance of gender diversity in leadership, particularly in a service sector that mostly serves and employs women. Although women have histori- cally been underrepresented on boards, senior executive positions, and national conference panels, significantly more women have been filling leadership positions during the past decade than ever before. Strategic hiring, leadership development, and mentoring programs can help build on this momentum. Addressing Disparities in Long Term Care The COVID-19 pandemic has exacer- bated racial and ethnic disparities in long term care that have previously been documented in financing, access to services, quality, and service delivery. Since April, policymakers and research- ers have expressed concern about how “the pandemic has disproportionately affected racial and ethnic minority communities both in the rate of infection and virus-related mortality.” This builds on prior research from other parts of the country that have found racial/ethnic differences in access to and use of long term services and supports, as well as disproportionately lower quality services among residents of color and indigenous residents. From a population health perspective, we can understand these differences as being shaped by complex social determinants of health. Which leads us to consider how public policies and organizational practices could help reduce health disparities that are rooted in race-related social and economic disadvantages. Where Do We Go from Here? In the coming year, OHCA will be exploring opportunities to “walk the talk” of increasing DEI in our long term care services. As a clearinghouse of best practices for long term care providers, we recognize the importance of providing members with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage an increasingly diverse workforce and resident population. We also recognize that these challenges represent a learning opportunity at all levels to better understand the barriers that members of marginalized communi- ties experience in accessing quality services or career advancement opportu- nities. Look for future opportunities to join the conversation and the journey on which OHCA is embarking. Mauro Hernandez is Co-Owner of Hearth & Truss and is an ALF representative on the OHCA Board of Directors. Source: US Census Bureau, Population Division, 2018 *Non-Hispanic Note: Non-Hispanic Native American and Native Hawaiian not shown (<1%) U.S. Population by Race and Hispanic Origin Race 2020 2060 White* 60% 44% Hispanic 19% 28% Black* 13% 14% Asian* 6% 9% Two or More Races* 2% 5% Among other lessons I’ve learned since the first project, is how many segments of our older population continue to face barriers accessing quality long term service and supports. Addressing those barriers first requires a shared understanding of the problem, particularly among profession leaders and policymakers.