Home > PUM One on One: James E. Taylor, Ph.D., New Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer UPMC

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PUM One on One:  James E. Taylor, Ph.D., New Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer UPMC

James E. Taylor, Ph.D., joined UPMC as its new chief diversity and inclusion officer March 14th.
Dr. Taylor will lead UPMC’s efforts to continue as an employer, provider and insurer that reflects and embraces the rich diversity of the Pittsburgh region in both employment and in services. With experience in diversity and inclusion in health care, Dr. Taylor is particularly interested in advancing a diversity agenda that responds to the demography of western Pennsylvania.


A native of the northeast, he is looking forward to exploring a new city that reminds him of home.

PUM: From your perspective working in this field, why do we really need diversity and inclusion mechanisms in place within corporations? What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion are far beyond a niche sub-function that has gained increasing visibility in corporations over the past two decades; if leveraged properly, diversity and inclusion can serve as the foundation for organizations to achieve their mission and grow their business.

As a health care executive and diversity practitioner, I am committed to creating a culture in which the unique attributes of each person are understood, valued, respected, and utilized. It is my belief that health providers must be intentional in their efforts to deliver culturally competent care to patients, recognizing that care needs may differ for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Key to providing culturally competent care to patients is the ability to establish and retain a workforce whose composition reflects the demographic of the service area population.

Organizations can achieve great success in diversity without being inclusive. Additionally, organizations can maintain an inclusive culture without having diverse representation. It is clear to me that UPMC is interested in advancing an agenda that promotes both diversity and inclusion. UPMC is dedicated to fostering a work environment where people from diverse backgrounds work comfortably in teams, recognizing that talent and ability are not limited, but enhanced, by the diversity and cultural expertise employees bring to the workplace.

PUM: How will you effectively implement diversity goals/plans at UPMC where it will be more action and less talk? With more than 60,000 employees, UPMC is one of the largest employers in Pennsylvania how do you begin to implement system-wide diversity initiatives?

Being early in my tenure at UPMC, I am focused on learning business goals and objectives for which key leaders and diversity stakeholders are held accountable, as well as opportunities and challenges for diversity and inclusion to serve as a vehicle to advance business goals. Additionally, we are in the midst of administering a survey instrument to gain an accurate pulse for workplace experiences, behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes of employees at UPMC. The collective insight gained from these meetings, as well as the analysis of the data compiled from the workplace survey tool, will form the framework for diversity management and a cultural competence agenda across the enterprise, and will inform how diversity goals are implemented across workforce, care delivery, community, and marketplace dimensions.

PUM: What sort of training opportunities will your team implement?  Will high level executives be included in training opportunities?

A broad portfolio of diversity learning opportunities will be offered to the 62,000 employees, executives included, at UPMC. Ranging from unconscious bias in care delivery and workplace decisions, to disability etiquette, awareness, and understanding, each learning opportunity will enhance the diversity and cultural competency skill-set of our employees and is designed to increase cultural knowledge, develop innovative cultural approaches, and enhance capability to customize care delivery to diverse patient populations.

PUM: Many people resent diversity training and don't see its relevance, how will you overcome that hurdle?

As a lifelong learner and believer that no one will ever know all there is to know about every single culture or population group, diversity training has significant value at UPMC, particularly given the nature of our work in health care. Transformation is an urgent industry requirement, and cultural competency is fundamental to that transformation. For us, diversity and inclusion are not an add-on, but a core business principle that allows us to fulfill our commitment to this region. Developing integrated training strategies that shift yesterday’s thought of diversity management from “special programs” to level the playing field across cultures is instrumental to accelerating the development of our culturally proficient organization.

PUM: Many believe that Pittsburgh needs to be more inclusive, to keep our community growing. It is well reported about the lack of diversity in many of the top corporations. What are some of your thoughts on recruiting diverse talent to UPMC? Especially recruiting the millennials who feel that diversity is essential to a company's success and their work experience.

As a newcomer to western Pennsylvania, I can attest that Pittsburgh has a lot to offer! At UPMC, we look for individuals who are at the high end of the scale with respect to overall capacity. We look for individuals who bring a depth of knowledge but who also understand the relationship between their area of expertise and the other functions with which they will have to interact. As a leader, I rely on millennials, for example, to inform leading-edge and next-generation strategies to advance the organization’s management capability. We deeply value collaboration skills, and recognize that, to be the world-renowned health care provider and insurer we aspire to be, we need to continue developing the high potential, richly diverse talent that currently resides within our organization, while also attracting diverse talent from across the globe.

PUM: It is reported that  UPMC instituted a hybrid “Rooney Rule” for insuring a diverse pool of candidates for executive hiring and the purchasing department, and UPMC actively searches for minority suppliers and now has a $100-million annual minority “buy” can you confirm where these efforts are yielding some positive results? Also what will be some of your initial goals?

Maintaining a diverse workforce is more critical than ever before. UPMC has been intentional in advancing our efforts to ensure we have the best talent delivering care to our diverse patient population.

Additionally, UPMC actively seeks to enter into business relationships with MWDBE suppliers who provide quality, cost competitive products and services to our customers. The Supplier Diversity Program is designed to ensure that MWDBEs are provided the maximum opportunity to participate as partners and suppliers of these goods and services. The organization recognizes that these diverse businesses enhance its supply chain and increase its competitive advantage in the marketplace. The UPMC SCM Department ensures that there is MWDBE participation on all RFPs/RFIs for which they qualify. Products and services provided by our MWDBE suppliers range from surgical/neurological, medical, and pharmacy supplies, to construction and facilities, IT, and corporate services. Corporate MWDBE goals are set annually to grow and develop MWDBE suppliers and to increase the diversity spend.

PUM: How will you be working with the top leadership at UPMC, including your President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Jeffrey A. Romoff?

UPMC is a massive organization with strong, mission driven values where collaboration is an essential skill to ensure that diversity is fully integrated into the core fabric of business operations. From my perspective, the bottom line, particularly for not-for-profit health care systems, is mission driven – improving the health and health status of the communities we serve. And for us at UPMC, the multicultural dimensions of these communities are inescapable. Mr. Romoff and the entire executive team at UPMC is committed to advancing an aggressive Diversity Agenda inclusive of providing culturally competent care, actively engaging with the communities we serve, and ensuring diversity in our business, vendor, and patient relationships.


The era of transforming health care has brought many uncertainties to our industry, but I am sure of one thing: UPMC will continue to enhance our corporate culture through a commonly shared commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

To Read Dr. Taylor's bio click here 

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