As the Commonwealth’s largest employer with over 73,000 employees, Partners HealthCare has committed to expanding and supporting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We recognize that this goal is of utmost importance, which is why we are striving to raise awareness of current challenges and share strategies for success.

Each January, Partners hosts a celebration to commemorate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy. Creating a forum where challenging topics can be discussed in a civil manner is central to Dr. King's legacy of non-violence.  We are proud and humbled to provide a space where all sides of the conversation are heard, respected, and thoroughly examined. On January 11, more than 250 guests gathered at the Partners HealthCare Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Luncheon, held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. The event featured a panel of leaders who discussed how to increase diversity of executive leadership in organizations in Boston. 

Partners President and CEO David F. Torchiana, MD, provided opening remarks thanking attendees and underscoring the power of Dr. King’s legacy and his work. He noted, “This is an important and complex issue that has been distilled into a simple concept: diversity in leadership allows us to more efficiently achieve our missions. Today is an opportunity for us to come together to look at issues that affect our communities. As Dr. King said, ‘A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right.’ We’re taking that message to heart and are thankful for all of you engaging in this mission with us.”

The luncheon emcee was Mallika Marshall, MD, an Emmy-award winning journalist, MGH physician, and Health Reporter for WBZ-TV in Boston. The panel moderator was Callie Crossley, award-winning broadcast journalist, documentary filmmaker, and host of “Under the Radar with Callie Crossley” on WGBH-FM 89.7. Crossley facilitated a discussion on the topic of diversity in leadership based on the panelists’ experiences as leaders. Our panelists included Yvonne Garcia, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Client Solutions Group and Program Management Office at State Street Corporation; Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College; and Bob Rivers, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Bank.

Crossley led an engaging and thought-provoking panel discussion. Pelton noted that while Boston is traditionally regarded as innovative and forward-thinking, there is still much to be done: “It doesn’t matter what field you reside in, whether it be education, health care, or finance. We can’t rest on our reputation of being progressive; as long as we do that, we’re not going to make progress. This is about continuous improvement toward excellence. Once you get to excellence, you can strive to be extraordinary.” 

Garcia agreed that while the city has come a long way, we all have a responsibility to act as change agents to build a better community—starting with proactive conversations and actions focusing on populations who have historically experienced the most significant disparities. In particular, our African American and Latino populations represent strong potential for the future. “The time has come when we need to come together. Boston has very high dropout rates in school; we have immigrants who don’t speak English, which presents challenges. These segments are the future of our society and every angle of power. It’s time to take action.” 

This philosophy was echoed by Rivers, who highlighted that diversity in workforces and leadership is a fundamental business principle: “Diversity isn’t just a concept; it is a matter about what is right and smart. Ethnicity, sexual orientation, and age are all markers for different experiences and ways of thinking. Issues won’t be fixed unless leaders come together systematically, ready and willing to develop a concrete, clear strategy to lift Boston up to become the city we can and should be.”

Partners Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dani Monroe concluded the luncheon with a quote from Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Through engaging in collaborative discussions like this luncheon and panel, each one of us—regardless of our personal backgrounds, careers, and interests—can be a major force for change in our communities.

Tags: industry interactions, community partnerships