CDO Spotlight - UPMC

July 12, 2017

CDO Spotlight

 Dr. James E. Taylor, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center


Dr. James E. Taylor serves as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at UPMC, a $14 billion world-renowned health care provider and insurer headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.  In this role, he is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic diversity initiatives. Dr. Taylor is charged with executing leading-edge and next-generation diversity strategies to advance the organization’s diversity management capability and its national presence as a diversity leader.

The Center for Engagement & Inclusion is comprised of a robust staff devoted to advancing the organization’s Diversity & Inclusion Agenda. Diversity Directors, Employee Resource Groups, a Committee of the Board of Directors dedicated to Diversity & Inclusion, and a full diversity & inclusion staff comprise the core infrastructure that supports the implementation of our diversity strategy.

Dr. Taylor brings a wealth of experience as a healthcare executive having served a diversity practitioner within the industry for more than 15 years. Before joining UPMC, Dr. Taylor served as both Chief Diversity Officer & Chief Learning Officer at Carolinas HealthCare System. Dr. Taylor also served as Executive Director, Diversity Strategy Execution and Workplace Inclusion at Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest managed care organization and not-for-profit health plan.

Dr. Taylor earned both a doctorate and master’s degree in Organizational Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University and completed his undergraduate studies at Ithaca College, where we now serve on the Board of Trustees. He also received an executive leadership certificate from the Harvard Business School of Harvard University.


Whom does your position report to?

At UPMC, the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer reports directly to the Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer. The Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer also has direct accountability to the Chief Human Resources Officer for the workforce pillar of the organization’s Diversity & Inclusion Agenda.

Discuss the top two priorities at your organization and what are you are doing to contribute to those priorities?

In some industries, there are perhaps only vague connections between diversity and the core work of the organization. Not with us. We have research, which proves the direct link between health care outcomes, workforce productivity, and community engagement to issues of culture and diversity. This knowledge prioritizes the work of diversity & inclusion as a core strategy at UPMC to achieve our mission and grow our business.

UPMC is a massive organization with strong, mission-driven values where teamwork is an essential skill to ensure that diversity is fully integrated into the core fabric of business operations. From our 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. Moreover, for us at UPMC, the multicultural dimensions of these communities are inescapable. It is through this lens that we prioritize the advancement of an aggressive diversity strategy inclusive of providing culturally competent care, actively engaging with the communities we serve, and ensuring diversity in our business, vendor, patient, and insurance member relationships.

What are the top two challenges encountered in your role and how do navigate those challenges?

As UPMC continues to grow and enter markets where we are not as well known, those affiliate hospitals will need strong leadership and a diverse talent workforce. It will be important to establish a culture early on that reinforces what we already know – talent and ability are not limited, but enhanced, by the diversity and cultural expertise that employees bring to the workplace. That is why we need to be intentional in our ongoing efforts to increase the capability to deliver culturally competent care to our patients and members, recognizing that care needs may differ for individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Additionally, like other large organizations, we face an increasingly shrinking labor pool as Baby Boomers continue to exit for retirement. We will need to attract, recruit, and retain a large number of caregivers to replace them. Our strategy for attracting the best and most diverse workers is to reinforce our standing as a best-in-class organization by nurturing an inclusive, welcoming workplace environment and encourage an internal movement that yields more women and executives of color.

Briefly, discuss some of the future priorities you envision that CDO’s must be focused on and why?

Millions of Americans are struggling with poverty, and millions more are adversely afflicted and threatened by one or more social determinant of health. The better we become at diversity management within health care, the more prepared we will be to respond to ongoing efforts to lead the transformation of health care delivery.

Throughout UPMC, a transformation is occurring in the way care is structured and delivered. UPMC is transforming from volume to value, and leveraging the unique dynamics of the integrated payer-provider structure, to deliver on its core mission of unmatched quality care, wide network access, and competitively priced health care products.  All of which, will put our patients, health plan members, employees, and the community at the center of everything we do, ensuring that every patient gets the right care, in the right way, at the right time, every time.

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


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