Healthcare Rethink - Episode 45
For a segment of FinThrive’s “Healthcare Rethink” podcast, host Brian Urban goes deeper into Dr. Grant's story and...
Brian Urban (00:22):
Yes, this is the Healthcare Rethink podcast. I'm your host, Brian Urban, and today we went global on our little podcast bringing in from LinkedIn, the vice president of diversity, inclusion and belonging, my very dear friend, Rosanna Durruthy. Thank you for joining our little show today.
Rosanna Durruthy (00:42):
Brian, thank you for having me. It's a real treat to get to spend time with you.
Brian Urban (00:47):
This is so much fun because you and I go back a little bit. We shared a work family, a work life many moons ago, and you've stepped into this amazing leadership role that touches lives across the globe, not just in our corner of United States, but just everywhere. So I'm so excited to get into what you're doing and the impact you're making. But with every episode we have, we want to get to know our guests' personal stories and what took you to your work. So I actually want to go back a bit before the big accolades. And I love this accolade, we'll come back to it later.
But you were titled and given the award of Visionary Silicon Valley Latino Leadership and Advancing Black Leaders. That is a lot and a lot to live up to. But I want to go back before all that. Before your work on a global scale, what took you into diversity, inclusion and belonging? And I want to talk about belonging as well. But what led you into this work? Where did this all come from?
Rosanna Durruthy (02:04):
So Brian, I'd love to tell you that this was by design. It is quite the accidental career. I went to college at 16 thinking that I was going to be a lawyer in international law, in media and entertainment. I would graduate from law school by 23, have a successful career and retire at 35. I can tell you none of that turned out. But what did turn out was in that space between having to leave undergraduate school, experiencing a very uncertain period in my life as my parents went through a turbulent end of their relationship, I needed to find a job. And what I possessed then were communication skills, comfort level talking to people, comfort level helping people identify solutions for themselves.
Even at a young age, I was a little bit of the how can I help you? And that led to work in sales. It brought me into a not-for-profit organization. And I landed at Citibank quite accidentally. Had not planned on a corporate career in human resources or in recruiting.
It occurred when they were looking for someone who understood and had a relationship with the Black and Latino community in the South Bronx because their ATMs had been glued shut by community activists who were frustrated that Citibank didn't have customer service and teller personnel that could communicate with the community that they were in the midst of.
And so it's a very simple rubric in defining how do you create an inclusive environment? You begin by creating an environment where you understand and can relate to your customer, to your employees, to your team members, where you share the language and the culture and you create the experience of respect. And that'll help you grow your business. And we didn't call it diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity back then. It was just how do we solve this problem of customers being frustrated because the people who serve them don't speak their language? And I try to keep it as simple as that.
Brian Urban (04:33):
And I think that's very relatable in terms of a strategy of how do you get others that are of not a diverse ethnic background to understand where challenges are visible in a business sense? So I think very, very smart. And I think the terminology of DEI and belonging has evolved in such an interesting way. But what catched my eye when we were starting to line up our conversation here is the belonging portion of your title. You don't often see it. You see a lot of leaders, chief of, or executive of DEI, but you don't always see the belonging portion. And I love LinkedIn's philosophy for not only social, but really a virtual society and how we function. So I feel like this is a nice LinkedIn drop in here with the title. But tell me about belonging, that portion of the title.
Rosanna Durruthy (05:38):
Yeah, it caught my attention too when this opportunity came up. This work of diversity is really work that enables us to identify how each of us utilize our culture, our experiences, our upbringing to create solutions and to be ourselves. And inclusion is that work of inviting people into the conversation and valuing their perceptions.
But belonging fired up all sorts of possibilities in my mind as I thought about isn't that what we really all want? To be a part of an environment and feel that sense of I can be fully who I am. I don't have to hide my experiences or hide my accent or hide my relationships. But in fact in walking in with the qualification and ability to do my work, I can also bring the person that I am into the room. I don't have to leave them outside the threshold at 9:00 AM and pick up that person at the end of the day because the environment I walk into isn't comfortable with people who are different from the people who are already in the room. But in fact welcome that different perspective, that unique experience, that upbringing actually serves as a clue that informs the work that we're doing.
It actually inspires an individual not to give a hundred percent, but to give 150% because you're utilizing all of your gifts, all of your abilities, and all of the insights that life presents you with to find solutions to the challenges that exist. And so belonging for me is something that is suited for each and every one of us. Some of us may or may not identify in certain ways, and that's okay. It's not up to us to define someone else's identity. But each and every one of us deserves to be valued, welcomed, appreciated, acknowledged for who we are, not for who we're not.
Brian Urban (07:50):
Rosanna Durruthy (07:50):
And that's where when you walk into an environment and you experience that, there's something about it that shifts the mind because there is an ease with which you walk. There is an assertion that you bring to conversations around, I have an opinion too, and I want to give it. You aren't second guessing whether you should share, but in fact you are doing it proactively.
And I'll take it one step further. When you have belonging, this conversation for inclusion actually becomes much easier because the opposite of inclusion is often perceived to be exclusion. But what I've seen is that the opposite of inclusion may actually be withholding. When we don't feel welcomed in a place, when we don't feel regarded or respected, we withhold. And I'll give you an example of that. You are married. I'm married. We've probably had occasions when we've annoyed our spouses enough that they give us the cold shoulder treatment. That's the day when they're not being warm and fuzzy. They're not really caring about whether we're going to get a hug at the end of the day or that day was like, "You're on your own. You cook your own meal," or something to that effect.
And I say that because it's just our human nature when we don't feel regarded or respected, to withhold. And so inclusion and belonging go together kind of like peanut butter and jelly. The experience of belonging allows me to contribute. When you invite me in the reciprocity is now I'm going to give of myself as opposed to walking in feeling that I need to be guarded.
Brian Urban (09:36):
I love that analogy. And the way that you broke that down, you made it very simple, especially for a lot of our listeners that do not have this particular expertise or this background or historic knowledge like yourself. And it's truly interesting, the belonging piece and inclusion fitting so naturally together. It's really a human condition fit and not so very much goes beyond a title of a leader in an organization that I feel like that just is a deep, deep talk for what I think a lot of LinkedIn has always represented. So I can see the track from now when you are going into your HR career and into the people side, now into the more meaningful side of what that's evolved to. And it's so funny because not to come over this, you were 16 at Harvard University, so I just wanted to make sure our folks knew that.
Rosanna Durruthy (10:43):
That's true. That's true.
Brian Urban (10:44):
Just wanted to call that out. That is not something to just comb over. Amazing. And I think what's so interesting that took you through your career is the natural progression of this work. So I did want to talk a little history with you because you are a cornucopia of knowledge in this space here, dare I say. So when I think diversity and inclusion programs, these titles have been thrown around a lot the last decade. Some organizations, I feel like it's been a PR move. It's been a media position for some organizations. But I want to go 10 years back and fast forward. You've been a part of this evolution and the meaningful side of things. What have you seen that's begun to materialize into real progress in corporate culture that maybe you were surprised by?
Rosanna Durruthy (11:42):
Yeah, I think few surprises because I've been doing this work for so long that I even had a moment where I walked away from it out of frustration. The frustration born of how companies would engage in this work as though it's a checklist, a set of tactics that you engage and deploy and that should solve the problem. But in reality, and you alluded to this earlier. I've been a human resources professional for several decades now. You can solve the people challenges of talent. You can hire someone who has the skills and abilities to come into your team and perform, but if you haven't solved for what inspires that individual to perform, what creates the conditions for high performance, then you're sub-optimizing. You'll probably end up losing that person at some point in time. And so what I've seen in the last decade is there's been greater awareness and recognition that this work of diversity, inclusion, and belonging, while many may deem it a form of altruism, it's not about altruism.
This isn't philanthropic. This isn't a giveaway. This is really about how will organizations be competitive not only in attracting the best talent, but retaining that talent in ways where that talent is able to perform at its highest level? I'll give you an example. We've seen more conversations about inclusive leadership. And why is that important? Because any one of us who assumes the responsibility for leading a team, for building a product, for interacting with customers, for realizing results for our members, needs to be able to understand not just people who are like ourselves, but needs to be able to craft solutions, inspire, build products, and communicate effectively with people who may be very different from us. The demographics that we're navigating globally, certainly in the United States tell us that the composition of the workforce customer segments that we address has changed markedly over the last 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years.
And so what got us to a point of success isn't going to be sufficient to get us to what's possible in the future. And so that's where the last decade or so we've started to see companies that no longer view this as just the work of the diversity leader or human resources. It's the work of the business. It's germane to realizing a company's vision. CEOs have signed onto this, recognizing that their ability to grow successful businesses and to be competitive in attracting and ensuring customer trust, requires an understanding of who that customer is. And all too frequently the growth market that they're looking at is a market that they historically have not served.
And so whether in healthcare or in any other product, trust is a central element of being able to address the needs of those that you serve. If you don't have trust, there's a likelihood they won't come back. If you don't have trust, there's a likelihood that they won't actually use the product in ways that it can work for them. If you don't have trust, they don't look to come work in your organization. And if they come and they don't experience trust, they're likely to leave much sooner. And that's a costly proposition for any organization.
So this is central to how you grow a healthy business and a successful business. And in order to avoid this checklist idea, you actually have to shape a culture that authentically breathes and responds to people's ability to be who they are. And for each of us to learn how to communicate and understand each other and work together and innovate together and create together and ultimately win together. And the work of diversity, inclusion, and belonging isn't a zero sum game. It's not premised on, in order for one person to be in the room, someone else has to be escorted out.
The reality is success grows opportunity for everyone, which is why inclusive leadership is about each of us being successful with the people that we work with, with the people we hire, about the ability to look around and see the complementary skills and experiences that we could bring to a team and differentiate performance, not by treating everyone exactly the same, but by recognizing that individuals are motivated by different things. They may communicate in different ways. And for us to be effective, we have to be adaptable to the style of communication, the style of expression, the way in which an individual not only is motivated, but perhaps how they prefer to be recognized, how you can stretch them into opportunities and grow the trust rather than evoke suspicion. And obviously I can talk about this for a really long time.
Brian Urban (17:02):
Rosanna, you hit on two really interesting things that I think a lot of organizations have struggled with, small, large mediums size across different industries is that checklist mentality. They see a comparative across the market relative to their segment or their products or their customers, and they want to match that. And I think that's a very short term perspective in many, many ways. But the business proposition that diversity, inclusion and belonging has now helped shift is talent acquisition, is talent retention, is product of development, innovation and attracting new customers in different segments and really being able to scale your impact to whatever your business might be. And I think it's so funny because we no longer live in the days that you stay with one company for 30 years and you retire with a gold watch. That does not exist, nor should it ever never come back into frame.
And in order to have this really accelerating pool of talent, not to be in a talent war with other organizations, but being able to have a diversity inclusion belonging shifted to the center of your culture. It doesn't happen overnight, but it seems like that is the most meaningful way people can be a part of their organization's journey, the actual impact being made regardless of industry. And I love that you talked about that. And it makes me think right now about the world's most reputable professional networking and learning web site, LinkedIn. Aside from the app, I think a lot of content sharing and compelling, compelling storytelling has been something that has been put to the front for diversity, inclusion, belonging. And LinkedIn has I think, positioned that nicely for a lot of different groups to learn from. Do you think that this type of platform has helped accelerate adoption of this being in the center of a culture for an organization or this opening the conversation more?
Rosanna Durruthy (19:31):
I certainly hope that it is accelerating. Certainly I think there's an understanding that it's very hard for people to imagine the things they don't know. And so if we're thinking about people who come from different backgrounds and communities. I'm a social network analyst by training, which is one of the reasons why I get excited by the things that we do. And our social networks tend to be very homogeneous. They reflect people who have shared backgrounds and experiences and same faith and grew up in the same environment. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I don't ever want anyone to think that they should be in any way ashamed or embarrassed for the identity that they were born into. We are who we are.
The real opportunity comes from recognizing that our ability to thrive and help others thrive is to not be insular about who we are, to actually be curious. And so the platform, I think, has played an important role in making visible what is invisible in some of the networks that we have. To be able to hear people's voices and perspectives and to see the work that they're doing and to be curious about how that might overlap with things that we're doing or interests that we have in common. I mean, certainly the world is not a mutually exclusive one. That we grow up with different racial or ethnic identities that we may have different sexual orientations does not in any way presume or preclude that we are entirely different and have nothing in common despite the discourse that we sometimes hear in social media and in the news and see on TV or read in papers.
But the reality is we all have the ability to learn from each other. But if as an individual we've never been exposed to someone different from us as we've gone through our education, as we've gone to numerous weddings of people who look just like us, as we go to work in environments that have a strong majority of an identity or racial or ethnic group represented, there is always a sense of suspicion, I think, when this term diversity, inclusion, equity arise because the perception is does it mean that I am less qualified or that I'm going to be taken away from an opportunity?
And in fact, that's not what it means at all. It means that we can all learn more and we can be more capable, more qualified when we understand how to interact with people who are different from us. It makes us better at what we do. It makes us better prepared for the world and the future that's coming at us. And so it's interesting to see. Those checklists, I think, in the early days that even preceded diversity were the tactics that were designed to solve for representation. But the reality is any leader in an organization knows representation is not consequential. If an individual doesn't have access to the relationships, they provide insights on the culture of the environment, doesn't have the tools needed to perform successfully in the environment.
And so this idea of how we work together, how we seek to understand each other, how we build skills that enable us to navigate different environments, whether it's different countries or different communities, becomes really instrumental in how we're going to be able to deliver healthcare that works. Understanding how people socialize is a way of understanding how is trust built? Because trust is a denominator that accelerates performance. It accelerates access. It accelerates how customers walk into our environment, not with suspicion, but with a belief that we can make a difference for them as well. So it's almost a super tool in the business leader's arsenal of tools if they're willing to accept it.. Otherwise they're fighting against what I consider the obviousness of the future. Things are changing and we either adapt to create success of the change or we risk the greatest failure because we're unable to recognize that the world around us isn't the world that existed 30 or 40 years ago.
Brian Urban (24:11):
I love that you went this direction. You touched on curiosity and you touched on really the evolution of organizations adopting this work beyond checklist. We've talked about that. You talked about trust as currency. Really I feel like that goes across multi-generations, multi race, ethnicity. It goes beyond a lot of things. It really breaks down walls. And what's really struck me about your work in particular in a social network is the building of communities. You're a traveler. You go to a lot of different time zones, I think probably within even a given month. And you also contribute greatly toward a lot of missions and other great causes as well that I probably don't even see on LinkedIn or maybe we haven't discussed. But in your travels to other countries that have a very different culture of health, culture of understanding and communication, do you see the same challenges maybe in a different lens [inaudible 00:25:24]?
Rosanna Durruthy (25:23):
Absolutely. I think that's a really great question because I think as human beings, what's different scares us. So sometimes it's the difference of someone who has a different culture or it's the difference of someone who is wealthier than we are. So we see class systems at play. So we certainly see difference everywhere we go around the world. I think it's a human condition that as we begin our lives, we start seeing the otherness of the world, never fully recognizing that we're the other. And my example for that is I ask people all the time, do you have siblings? Do you have brothers and sisters that you're biologically related to? So you actually share DNA, and maybe you grew up in the same house and shared a bedroom and you shared a bathroom and you shared holidays. And as you grow into your adult years, there's that moment when you're together for a holiday, you're sitting across from each other. You look at that person and you wonder, how could we possibly be related to each other?
Brian Urban (26:30):
I've had that realization a few times.
Rosanna Durruthy (26:36):
And it's a very human realization, but I think it is the ultimate realization that what's different isn't necessarily different by race or gender or class. What's different is different by our own humanity because we can share DNA, grow up in the same environment, having experienced nature and nurture in the same way, and still see things entirely different. There's that argument about what took place at a particular moment, and two people see it entirely different despite the fact that they were both right there. And so I say that because we've been hardwired, I think, to believe that our differences are based on things like race or religion or sexual orientation or class.
Our differences are based on being human, and those differences aren't even really real. I mean, we have different experiences. That's what being a human being is about. But it doesn't necessarily imply that one difference or one experience is more important than another.
We are not our situations and circumstances despite the fact that we treat people in many instances or treat ourselves as though we are. And if we're able to override and overcome that way of thinking, we can actually see that every human being is a possibility. And that possibility could be a possibility for good or a possibility for bad. But we're possibilities walking the earth. And how we touch each other, how we interact with each other actually becomes the catalyst. It actually is like a form of alchemy. It can make that kind of difference that helps an individual experience success in their healthcare journey, or help an employee perform better than they have been performing because they experienced someone who saw them as a possibility, not as a problem.
Or it can help us be better in navigating the unexpected experiences that life will hand us. It gives us the resilience. It gives us the ability to seek to understand and be a little more curious as opposed to presuming that it's just the way it is. That's how it's always been. That's how it's always be. It will always be someone will win and someone will lose.
Brian Urban (29:05):
What I think is so interesting, what you've gone back to a couple times, is a curiosity piece of someone's intelligence, someone's philosophy or approach as a leader. And it's interesting with diversity, inclusion, and belonging, it's something that can be adopted as a mindset for an executive leader, small, large organizations that see individuals without expectations of filling a preconceived profile for performance and being able to sit back and observe what are their unique skills and talents that they bring to the table, whether it matches with their scope or not, and where can that be best applied?
Kind of going back to the talent acquisition and retention and application of skills, I feel like you've gone to that word curiosity. It's making me think that if you are adopting a diversity, inclusion, belonging philosophy, and you truly believe that, you are seeing your individual contributors, your leaders in your organization for the value that they bring, not fulfilling a particular profile that you might've had in mind. I think it's very difficult and it takes time, but a lot of very successful organizations that creatively solve different problems and bring different products to market, all have that thread connected.
Rosanna Durruthy (30:46):
Absolutely. If we lack curiosity, the presumption is everything's okay, let's leave it alone. But how do we continuously improve? How do we reach markets we've never been in before? How do we grow customer and member experiences of satisfaction if we're just doing what we've always done? I mean, if that were the case, we would still be riding around on horses and not thinking about electric powered cars.
Brian Urban (31:18):
Among other things. Yes.
Rosanna Durruthy (31:19):
Among other things. And I love horses. There's a place for horses in the world, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's the only way to approach the world. And curiosity is something that can only be internally driven. We could say, "Yes, let's try and spark a person's curiosity." But I think it's part of our own agency. If we're not curious, then we're either presuming we have all the answers or we're not really interested in building an answer. We're just happy doing what we do and hoping that that's good enough.
Brian Urban (31:52):
And I think we're coming to a really interesting, I think, arc of maturity with organizations and individuals understanding truly what diversity, inclusion, equity belonging mean because they're experiencing it themselves. And I want to look into the future a little bit here, because you've seen a lot through your career thus far, coming from the people perspective in through now diversity, inclusion and belonging. I want to look five years from now, maybe more. Do you see more change in the space, disruptions, barriers, or are you seeing the rise of these emerging advocates and voices coming out of left field that are helping lead the conversation and helping people understand it with a loving and curiosity approach?
Rosanna Durruthy (32:52):
I think we're going to see both. There's certainly going to be a need for the consistency that builds trust around this conversation. There may be those who expect the world of diversity and equity and inclusion to go away. I've been in my career a long time. It's never gone away. And in fact, when I first went into a diversity role, the objective was, let me put myself out of a job. And it doesn't go away because we as human beings continue changing. And as we change, difference emerges.
So I think the future, if we look out five years, we will see a change in the diversity conversation, in part fueled by what will be the next largest generation in the workforce, Gen Z. There's an expectation they have of the companies they work for, the businesses they're willing to do business with, around their responsibility for our humanity.
And I think it's really interesting in that when I was growing up, I'd go food shopping with my mom and the aisle had any number of products, and you were product loyal because that was the product you were introduced to as a kid. And now there's so much choice around products. People are actually looking at the ingredients. They're looking at what the company's vision statement is. They want to know how the money's being used. Is it being used to create good or is it harming our community? I mean, it's really fascinating. And when I talk to young people, what's very evident is they're thinking about that. They're thinking about purpose, and they're thinking about, are the companies that are looking to recruit me, are the companies that look to sell me products aligned with my values? And are they living the kind of purpose that I want to be a part of? Or am I contributing to the very problem we have?
It's certainly not my opinion about what's important. It's about how people view importance of their lives and what they think we should be sharing and responsibility for. So five years from now, I think we will have seen some companies try to skirt the issue. Many companies jumped in post George Floyd's murder. And so as a result of that, there was a sense of, well, everyone's doing this. We need to do this too.
And some companies have started backing away from that. And we knew that would be the case. Anyone who's been in this work any period of time knows that A, it's really hard. B, it's very exhausting. And C, there are days you want to walk away from it. But the companies that stay the course, that build trust, that recognize that this isn't a gimmick, this is really about relationships, authenticity, trust, curiosity for the market that's emerging, and creating products and having a workforce that's relevant to the moment we're into, the relationships we're building, to the communities we're a part of.
I think those are the companies that invariably will lead. They may even win. We may see companies be starved of the talent they need to perform. We may see services that evolve rapidly. Certainly there isn't just one aspect of change. There are multiple forms of change. As we think of the role of AI and the work that we'll all be doing and how creating value won't necessarily be just about who gets the product or the service fastest. It'll also be about who's creating a product and service that's meaningful to you and to me and to our family members?
And so winning could be very well a function of who's paying attention to the changes in the world and how we as humans walk this world so that we're creating experiences that allow each of us to feel welcomed, valued, and appreciated, and have that sense of belonging? I belong in this space. That product belongs to me. And to have a sense of pride that we get to engage with it.
Brian Urban (37:24):
I could not think of a better way to leave our listeners wanting to adopt personally a better approach to diversity, inclusion, and belonging for themselves, let alone their work and their organization. But I love your message. I hear if this is not truly brought into the center of an organization's mission and belief, you're seeing a generation now emerge that is going to require that and you may suffer the consequences. And I think that, if anything, is a move to adopt diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Now I can't wait to see what happens over the next five years based on what you just said. But I'm just so thankful that you took the time to be able to reconnect with me, Rosanna, and join our little show. And I thank you for your time. I'm just so happy I got to hear everything that you've been impacting the last few years here at LinkedIn.
Rosanna Durruthy (38:38):
Well, I am so pleased to be able to spend time with you. I love what you're doing, and I certainly love that you are bringing your curiosity to the world. It's this opportunity for ideas and the exchange of ways in which we build together that I think ultimately makes our society a better society and is going to make us all more successful and quite frankly, more gratified as people. And it's a nice thing to be able to do work that you love, to work with people who care about you and you care about. More importantly, to know that the things you're doing make the world a better place. And I'd like to think that's what we're up to.
Brian Urban (39:21):
I could not agree more. And I wish we could talk for literally another 60 minutes. But hey, I feel a follow-up coming on. You never know.
Rosanna Durruthy (39:31):
Brian Urban (39:32):
I'm so thankful that you took the time today. And for more exciting excerpts and insights, please visit us at finthrive.com. Thank you, Rosanna.
Rosanna Durruthy (39:43):
Thank you so much, Brian.
Healthcare Rethink - Episode 42
Hosted by Brian Urban, Director of Innovation & Emerging Markets at FinThrive, the latest episode of Healthcare...