Meet Nikia Smith, Tenet's Manager of Diversity and Inclusion
Tell us about your background and how it led you to Tenet.
College is where my interest in this field of Diversity and Inclusion sparked. With an undergraduate degree in Sociology and a Master’s in Business Management, I have always had an affinity for behavioral sciences and how it applies to groups of people specifically in a corporate environment. With a rich background in DEI from multiple industries, coupled with my love for people, healthcare was a natural fit.
What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?
Diversity is the array of colorful paints and inclusion is the beautiful masterpieces of art we create when we promote an ecosystem of belonging and appreciation for one another’s differences. Diversity and Inclusion is not just someone’s race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. It is creating space to advocate for others as well as respecting diversity of thought.
Can you point to any important life experiences that have shaped your approach to your work and to making a difference?
Growing up in California my neighborhood was very diverse. Each day my older sister and I would ride the city bus to a private catholic school where we were the only African American students. It was obvious we were different from others optically therefore we learned to embrace our uniqueness and celebrate that of others. Education is the greatest equalizer, and I loved the ability to learn about others and teach them about me. Back then I didn’t know it was called being inclusive.
What inspired you to pursue diversity and inclusion (D&I) as a career?
Throughout my life journey, I’ve had many opportunities to lead people, including as a mother, volunteer in my community, in church and at work. I have always been inspired to drive people to their personal best. However, that cannot happen until you get to know, value, and RESPECT the person. As a leader, I feel obligated to advocate for a culture where we all feel welcome. That is where our best work manifests.
"Diversity is the array of colorful paints and inclusion is the beautiful masterpieces of art we create when we promote an ecosystem of belonging and appreciation for one another’s differences."
Do you see healthcare as being a unique space to promote D&I?
Yes, healthcare is a very distinct place to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion. The provision of care to individuals no matter their identities advocates for inclusion. It’s the one place where intersectionality drives our value of compassionate care here at Tenet. Access to inclusive care helps build a strong sense of belonging.
How can each of us make a personal investment in championing D&I?
By meeting people where they are and by being intentional about getting out of your comfort zone; learn, share, and grow! We all are different and bring our whole selves to work each day. We didn’t all grow up in the same house, eat the same foods, go to the same schools, or share the same beliefs. However, the advantage of our intersectionality’s makes us unique collectively, and this should be a reason we celebrate our differences and minimize our bias.