<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=306561&amp;fmt=gif">
Skip to content

Diversity Initiatives are Driving Improvements in Healthcare D&A: Krishna Karuturi

Krishna Karuturi, PhD, Director, Research Data and Analytics at Sutter Health reveals how diversity and inclusion initiatives are driving innovation and fresh thinking in data and analytics in this exclusive interview 


C: How do you personally define diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and what impact do you think that diversity has on team dynamics and productivity? 

K: I define diversity and inclusion in the workplace as understanding and embracing the diversity we have in our society. Furthermore, as a leader and a mentor, it’s about providing the support that each colleague needs for their well-being at work and in the evolution of their career trajectory by connecting their unique cultural background, personality traits, skills, interests, aspirations, and approaches to our organizational goals. Those goals including improving access to equitable care for our patients and communities. 
We are attempting to solve problems that are a lot more complex than we perceive. We need to come up with efficient and scalable healthcare solutions for a customer base that is more diverse than many people realize.  

This is where the benefits of having and enabling diverse teams come into play via their collective-connected thinking that reveals multiple facets of our function and the problems we try to solve. 
In a diverse team, every member brings a unique perspective to our discussions which leads us to ask more insightful questions and leads us to much better solutions. Furthermore, a diverse team attracts and retains diverse candidates to our teams, while enriching cultural exchange and learning environment leading to rich growth of individual team members and the team.  

C: What unique benefits do you believe diverse teams bring to the table, especially in the realm of data and analytics?

K: Data and analytics is a function of research, innovation and operations at the intersection of business, mathematics, AI, and computing. Furthermore, the data we work with and the analytics we produce are based on rich, heterogeneous, potentially biased, and incomplete data of the diverse groups we aspire to serve. Diverse teams are essential in this context to identify impactful questions, effectively use complex data, and engage diverse stakeholders.

Diverse teams also influence team culture and dynamics by promoting curiosity, active listening, and openness to new perspectives which are all essential for an impactful and efficient data and analytics function. 


Data and Analytics Live


C: How have learning and development initiatives around diversity and inclusion contributed to your personal growth or the growth of those around you?

K: Being a first-generation college graduate from rural Asia and who stutters, I used to think that I had gone through diverse experiences myself throughout my education and career.

However, learning and development initiatives such as unconscious bias training, special interest groups on diversity, and studying literature on biases and the challenges faced by different groups in our society and at work have opened my eyes to the complex arena of diversity and inclusion.

The complexity and the ravaging impacts of biases in many walks of our lives in our society are many fold higher than I was aware of. This learning and realization made me an active listener, inspired me to provide quality feedback to my colleagues, and made me significantly more empathetic than before. Overall, these initiatives significantly improved my interactions and relationships in everyday life at work and in social settings.

C: In your experience, how does embracing diversity and inclusion influence leadership styles or decision-making processes?

K: In my experience, embracing diversity and inclusion influences leaders in many ways. First of all, it makes it imperative for leaders to adopt facilitative and entrepreneurial leadership styles that promote creativity, innovation, efficiency, and impact-centric teamwork.

What’s more, it often inspires creative approaches to developing support structures for staff success and resolving conflicts with empathy.  

As a result, the leaders who embrace diversity and inclusion will be able to develop engaging diverse teams, grow impactful business portfolios, and serve their business functions such that their teams and partner departments are all successful.   

C: Could you share how a commitment to diversity and inclusion has inspired any innovative strategies or initiatives, in your experience?

K: Commitment to diversity and inclusion has inspired initiatives in every aspect of organizations, and at Sutter Health specifically through the organization’s Institute for Advancing Health Equity . For example, in the healthcare setting, a strong push is underway for health equity programs that include reaching out to diverse communities, investing in research on healthcare disparities and devising interventions, and recruiting diverse clinical staff.

Another area of significant shift is increased emphasis on workforce diversity which includes initiating partnership programs with higher education institutions that historically serve minority and underrepresented communities, and leadership development programs. Sutter Health has recently made strides in this direction through a partnership with  Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU), the only federally designated historically black institution west of Texas.

C: How do you view the question of diversity quotas in creating an inclusive culture?

K: Diversity quotas help address blatant under representation of certain groups, mostly defined by socio-demographic and economic status. Quotas can be important first step, with a lot of work to be followed up throughout the journey of staff at organizations.

We should study the experiences in countries where such quotas have been implemented to guide our approach. While waiting to do so, the organizations and leaders must act using the tools they have at their disposal: from outreach programs for recruiting staff from diverse communities to inclusive recruitment process and onboarding and integration and positioning every staff member for success.

C: How important is team feedback in evolving diversity and inclusivity initiatives, and can you provide an example of how feedback led to meaningful change?

K: Team feedback is extremely important in evolving diversity and inclusion initiatives. For example, one of the listening sessions facilitated by our HR partner helped us develop and successfully execute a strategy to increase the women representation in our leadership team.

In another instance, the team feedback helped me better understand the struggles, expectations, and aspirations of our team members, followed by developing mentoring strategies to support growth of our diverse team members.

C: Looking forward, what changes or trends do you anticipate in the field of diversity and inclusion within the healthcare and tech industries?

K: From access to patient engagement to care delivery, from research to diagnosis to treatment, and from clinical trial design to recruitment to training, we see all encompassing awareness and emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

Research will play a huge role in identifying disparities and biases, and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions. Research at Sutter is conducted to help support that larger role. Overall, I see this emphasis is influencing algorithm and technology development, and deployment in healthcare in the future.  

Want to learn more?

Data and Analytics Live kicks off on July 17th, 2024. Join leading data and analytics professionals to learn about the latest trends and opportunities in the industry. Register to attend here.