While a psychology student at Kansas State University, Dr. Andrea Hendricks learned about the importance of diversity through participating in student groups and working in the university’s D&I office. From those experiences, “I knew I wanted diversity as part of my plan,” she says. Today Hendricks is the senior executive director of diversity and inclusion strategy for Cerner Corp., a health-care technology company based in North Kansas City, Missouri. She shares her insights on the power of D&I in her new book, The Big Journey: Bold Inclusion for Greatness. Hendricks spoke with Diversity Woman about what lies ahead for D&I.
Diversity Woman: How has your background in psychology influenced your work in D&I?
Andrea Hendricks: It has allowed me to see through an empathetic, sympathetic, engaging, innovative, and creative mind-set what the value of true diversity should look like in organizations and communities.
DW: What types of initiatives has Cerner put in place to increase the number of women in STEM?
AH: We have entry-level academy programs offering pipelines from college to career. We have a robust internship program. We also have various associate groups that include women, where the associates can get together and support each other. We support other programs related to women such as Girls Who Code events. We have also done Girl Scout programming and workshops, not only in English but also in Spanish.
DW: Cerner was named to Forbes’s list of Best Employers for Diversity in 2019. Why?
AH: We’ve made an effort to address diversity comprehensively: women, military, veterans, race, culture, generations, LGBTQ, and disability. Since 1979, we’ve had something each and every year that has addressed those areas.
DW: What are some of the challenges facing D&I?
AH: There’s a difference between diversity, inclusion, and engagement. Diversity is about the relationships that you have with others who are different from you. Inclusion is when you invite everyone to the table to have vision, voice, and visibility. Engagement is about accountability and ownership efforts for diversity. The whole organization has to have the engagement, the accountability, and the ownership. That’s where we fall short.
DW: What trends should we expect to see in diversity in the next five years?
AH: One is intersectionality—valuing and allowing people to bring their whole selves to work.
A second is cultural intelligence. A lot of individuals do not have the cultural intelligence to work across borders, across communities, and across industries.
Another trend is looking at diversity through the secondary dimensions. Primary dimensions are gender, ethnicity, race, culture, sexual orientation, and disability. Secondary dimensions deal with innovation, different perspectives, and diverse thoughts. How are we allowing people to bring their diverse thoughts and perspectives to work so we can have a greater result?