News Highlights: Week of October 16

How Doctors’ Bias Leads to Unfair and Unsound Medical Triage, by Philip Rosoff of Aeon

When you’re sick, you want a say in your medical treatment, right? And you depend on your doctor to give you the best available treatment regardless of your race, gender, or other identity marker. This process of shared decision-making—in which doctor and patient work together to determine the appropriate level and type of treatment—may seem like a no-brainer. However, a major factor often limits the doctor-patient relationship and in the end, people’s healthcare options. Bedside rationing—“in which doctors decide, on an individual per-patient basis, what should be available to them, regardless of the range of services that their insurance or finances might otherwise allow”—can lead to differential treatment of patients because of the doctor’s subconscious biases. So how to combat bedside rationing? Philip Rosoff, director of the clinical ethics program at Duke University Hospital says it is “extraordinarily difficult to do,” and bedside rationing “can readily lead to too much and too little offered to patients for reasons that cannot be easily justified.”

Four Myths about the Multigenerational Workplace, by Christina Folz of the Society for Human Resource Management

While diversity in the workplace is increasingly the topic of boardroom discussions and employee trainings, the demographic factor of age is often missing from the conversation. Whether employees are young or old, misperceptions based on generational stereotypes actually hurt rather than help the workplace. “Multigenerational workforces have been shown to be more productive and have less turnover than those without age diversity,” states writer and editor Christina Folz. With input from business experts, she debunks four common myths about multigenerational diversity and concludes the following: 1) age is not correlated with job performance, 2) baby boomers don’t necessarily cost firms more money (in fact, boomers seek flexible schedules over larger paychecks), 3) companies unknowingly contribute to age discrimination more often than they think they do, and 4) baby boomers are not stealing jobs from millennials by choosing not to retire.

Research: Why Employer Support Is So Important for Transgender Employees, by Christian Thoroughgood and Katina Sawyer of the Harvard Business Review

In an effort to better understand the professional experiences of transgender people across the U.S., Professors Christian Thoroughgood and Katina Sawyer conducted interviews with approximately 40 transgender people and found that a supportive and empathetic culture—promoted from the top-down—is critical to feeling safe and successful in the workplace. Commonly reported workplace experiences among transgender employees include rejection from coworkers, discrimination, harassment, being misgendered, and an increase in mental and emotional health challenges as a result of this mistreatment. In order to combat this behavior and improve workplace environments for transgender employees, Thoroughgood and Sawyer found that employer and coworker inclusivity were equally important to research participants, particularly during the gender transition process. Examples of this include validating people’s gender identities through correct pronoun usage, access to bathrooms, attending diversity trainings that address transgender issues, and engaging in self-reflection to work through any initial discomfort or uncertainty.

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