Ryan King, our vice president of human resources, and I were pleased to have been invited by NH Business Review to participate as speakers and panelists representing Northeast Delta Dental at NHBR’s annual event on diversity, equity and inclusion. DEI: From Talk to Action was held recently at the Manchester Country Club. If you didn’t attend this year, I hope you will join us in 2024!
The event included speakers highlighting key aspects of DEI as it applied to recruitment and retention, a series of audience table discussions and an expert panel exploring topics raised during the table discussions. Speakers included diversity experts from Plymouth State University, Sanborn Diversity Training Solutions, Lavallee Brensinger Architects and Point32Health. The following are some of the points about Northeast Delta Dental’s diversity journey that Ryan and I shared.
On DEI as it applies to recruitment and retention:
- We intentionally created and continue to enhance an environment that allows everyone to feel safe, included and empowered. This emphasis on a positive company culture began long before we and other businesses made DEI a higher priority; but, like them, we have benefitted from our more recent DEI initiatives.
- Our employee demographics are 68% female, 32% male and 8% BIPOC. Although it exceeds NH state demographics, we want to raise those BIPOC numbers. We consistently recruit employees through organizations and events that serve the BIPOC population. We’re proud of our low turnover rates that result in an average employee tenure of close to 12 years. However, combined with NH BIPOC demographics, this turnover rate presents challenges for recruiting diverse candidates. Our board recruiting efforts have been more successful. Currently 17% of our NH board members are from the BIPOC population. Even so, we continue to strive for a higher number.
- To instill and promote an inclusive environment, we provide ongoing training on a variety of topics that address DEI directly and indirectly, including the NHBSR DEI Workplace Innovation Challenge and workshops on civility, generational diversity, bystander responsibilities and the psychological impact of racial trauma and how it manifests at work.
As examples of equity and inclusion, I told participants that we had a role in last year’s landmark NH legislation extending dental benefits to adult Medicaid recipients and that we incentivize dental students to provide services to underserved populations with loan repayments and scholarships. I also pointed out that we dedicate financial resources to helping veterans in all three of our states to receive dental care because veterans often can’t obtain these services through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In keeping with our belief that everyone deserves a healthy smile, our DEI initiatives are an important facet of Northeast Delta Dental’s ongoing efforts to eliminate impediments to oral health by increasing access to dental services that, ultimately, improve people’s overall health and general sense of well-being.