The VOICE of UPMC Shadyside Winter 2021–2022

Driving and Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Q&A with James E. Taylor, PhD, Chief Diversity and Inclusion
Officer and Chief Talent Management Officer, UPMC

Dr. James E. Taylor is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic diversity initiatives that differentiate UPMC. To this end, he executes leading-edge and next-generation diversity strategies to advance the health care provider and insurer’s diversity management capability and its national presence as a diversity leader. Dr. Taylor also provides oversight to the design and execution of an integrated roadmap that provides UPMC with highly effective and technologically advanced employee learning and innovation, organizational development, succession planning, and consultative services aligned to the institution’s long-term priorities.

Why is diversity, equity, and inclusion a core strategy at UPMC?

“At UPMC, diversity is how we achieve our mission and how we grow our business. It is not possible for us to improve the health status of the communities we serve without knowing and supporting the unique diversity within each. In some industries, there are only vague connections between diversity and the core work of the organization. Not with us. Transformation is an urgent industry requirement, and cultural competency is fundamental to our transformation. Our employees are constantly assessing the direct link between culture, workforce productivity, community engagement, and health care outcomes to inform our care delivery practices.”

What is distinctive about UPMC’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion?

“We, in health care, tend to be really good at quantifying and measuring outcomes. This is also true for those of us who are diversity practitioners within the industry. UPMC adopted a framework to advance our diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies that is multifaceted. Coined the UPMC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Agenda, this body of work is designed to ensure that diversity permeates all aspects of our culture, shapes the daily interactions of our people, and is even further integrated into all that we do. From this Agenda, countless initiatives have been developed and implemented across our organization.”

Is advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion a new strategy for UPMC?

“Diversity is not new for us. We are proud of our heritage and history, which was founded specifically to care for the poor, the aged, and the infirm of every race, creed, and nationality. We established a UPMC Board Inclusion & Diversity Committee in 1996, which was unprecedented at the time, to provide governance and policy advisement to the executive leadership of UPMC. This Board Committee remains intact today. I have had multiple predecessors who led the Office of Diversity at UPMC dating back to 2001, well before my tenure with UPMC began in 2016. And while more recent current events, including COVID-19, racial unrest, and Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race report, have given us a platform to sharpen our focus, equity has long been a core value at UPMC.”

How is it going?

“Extremely well. There are any number of success measures that we’re able to tout. We’ve increased representation of people of color in our executive roles throughout the entire organization by more than 80 percent in less than five years. We required two separate diversity, equity, and inclusion learnings/ trainings for all of our 93,000 employees in 2021. We have strategically focused our efforts on eliminating health disparities in primary care, cardiovascular health care, maternal and child health care, and behavioral health. Last year, we sponsored $147M to nonprofit/community organizations throughout our footprint while also celebrating 25 years of Supplier Diversity as business practice within UPMC as we achieved $246M in diverse spend.

“As a result of these efforts, UPMC has been nationally recognized as a top ranked organization for our outcomesbased diversity strategy both within and outside of health care. This recognition brings me a tremendous sense of Pittsburgh pride — a sense that we really can rally to respond to anything.”

What inspires you and keeps you going, despite some difficult times?

“Difficult times, in themselves, are an inspiration for me. I have the rare opportunity to serve as a voice to those who often don’t have one. Our objective at UPMC is to eliminate disparities of all types. And until the disparities gap is completed closed — across both the health and the employment continua — I will remain inspired to serve in the capacity that I do.”

For more about UPMC’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and the UPMC Center for Engagement and Inclusion, please visit