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Race Relations in Healthcare with Myra Davis

Posted by The HCI Group on July 17, 2020 at 6:50 AM

The HCI Group was pleased to welcome Myra Davis, the Senior Vice President and Chief Information and Innovation Officer at Texas Children’s. Prior to joining Texas Children’s, she served roles of software development, project management, leadership positions, and various consulting roles where she has taken an influential role in change management to make the adoption and acceptance of technology successful. Myra Davis was joined by Ed Marx, HCI’s Chief Digital Officer and former Cleveland Clinic CIO to take part in HCI’s live interactive webinar series, Race Relations in Healthcare Technology. During the 30-minute session, Ed and Myra explore her experiences dealing with racism as woman in color in the Healthcare IT field.

“I go through an exercise with my leadership team called ‘Valuing Differences’ to understand the personalities of each other. Everyone has a voice that matters, but you must appreciate where the voice is coming from and to do that you really need to balance and understand the differences in perspective. I think this is important as a foundation. When you start doing this [exercise] you start to realize, not only are you different from your demeanor and your position of personality, but you’re different overall from your background, developmental field, and your race. It’s powerful when everyone begins to recognize the diversity that’s around the table, and that means diversity of opinion, thought and color.”

myra davis


Ed Marx: What advice would you give an African American woman that is interested in becoming CIO in a predominantly white male field?

Myra Davis: I would advise them to just think of it in simple terms. When you walk into a room, keep in mind, if everyone has pants on, they put their pants on the same way that you did. While that sounds simple it levels the playing field. This mindset removes the notion and perception that you are different. I found that overthinking this creates a false level of intimidation, unwarranted fear, and removes your ability to just go in and show your talent.

Ed Marx: What are some recommendations for finding mentors, specifically related to race, and overcoming disparities that exist in healthcare technology?

Myra Davis: From my experience, I am not looking for someone who thinks like myself, I’m looking for someone whose very different. This makes me uncomfortable, and that’s intentional. It makes me want to become vulnerable and acknowledge what I don’t know. So, when you’re seeking a mentorship, I think it’s really important to seek mentorship from those who are very different than you.

Ed Marx: How have you seen diversity work in the workplace that lifts you higher?

Myra Davis: I go through an exercise with my leadership team called ‘Valuing Differences’ to understand the personalities of each other. Everyone has a voice that matters, but you must appreciate where the voice is coming from and to do that, you really need to balance and understand the differences in perspective. I think this is important as a foundation. When you start doing this you start to realize, not only are you different from your demeanor and your position of personality, but you’re different overall from your background, developmental field, and your race. It’s powerful when everyone begins to recognize the diversity that’s around the table, and that means diversity of opinion, thought and color.

Ed Marx: What would you want white, male healthcare IT leaders to know as it relates to race?

Myra Davis: I’ll use the George Floyd incident as an example and being a mother of two young men. When that happened, as a professional, I went into the workplace, but I was hurting. I was hurting, I was tired, and I was scared. Having two, independent young men, there was a lot of fear brought upon me that no one really knew at the time or understood. So, whether its your female colleague or your black male colleague, it's okay to ask questions in an incident as egregious as that, to say how are you feeling? Or just saying a statement like, “I don’t know what to say but I can’t even imagine how you are feeling.” Just open that door and acknowledge that something wasn’t right there, and that’s around humanity to a person of color. I think just opening the door to having a conversation like that goes a long way and is very much appreciated.

Ed Marx: What are some tangible things that we can all do to help close that gap?

Myra Davis: I appreciate what you are doing now, which is talking about it. I commend you and your organization for having this webinar, I commend all those that took the time to dial in, to learn to listen. I think that’s step one, just having a conversation. Step two is if you do nothing else, and I share this with my white colleagues all the time, is go and speak to understand, sit in the moment. What I mean by that is look for context, look for information, read. This has been going on for 400 years, you’re not going to learn by one incident why we are hurting so much, why there’s so much frustration and anger.

 

Click here to listen to full webinar recording

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