The Company

Willamette Dental Group has been delivering proactive and inclusive patient care since 1970.

From its humble beginning in a small office in Portland, OR, Willamette Dental Group revolutionized dental care with a focus on preventive measures and long-term oral health. As a fully integrated dental care organization, they provide comprehensive and affordable services supported by their own insurance products. Driven by their visionary leader, Dr. Skourtes, Willamette Dental is committed to serving the oral care needs of their members in the Northwest for many years to come.

With modern thinking, advanced technologies, and active community engagement, they look forward to embracing the exciting possibilities of the next 50 years.

The Challenges

How do you help ensure your employee demographics more strongly align with the communities you serve? This was the key question for Willamette Dental Group.

As a healthcare leader serving diverse communities, Willamette Dental Group faced the crucial challenge of developing a more defined DEI strategy.

Both employee and patient feedback revealed opportunities for improvement in creating a more inclusive environment. They wanted to align their vision to be “the dental employer and provider of choice” while also reducing healthcare disparities in their community.

“We envision a clinical group practice that reflects the communities we serve, lifts the voices of lived experiences at all intersections, and provides fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement to historically underrepresented groups. We are working to create an inclusive work environment, to build stronger connected work teams, reduce health disparities for Black and brown communities, and an enhanced work environment for employees, patients, and business partners.”

-Dr. Nicholas Skourtes, Vice President

They knew they needed to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in their governance and leadership to achieve a significant impact for both their employees and the 425,000 patients they serve.

The goal? Attract and retain qualified and culturally competent providers who are capable of delivering mindful, equitable care.

The main question became: Where do we start? How do we track and scale our DEI efforts? And what do we need to get there?

The Solution

Willamette Dental knew they needed to implement a comprehensive employee success and DEI strategy. That started by having the right people in the right roles - and the right technology to help them scale and sustain their strategy.

First, they leaned heavily on their employee engagement and pulse survey tools through Quantum Workplace to use data to better understand the needs and wants of their employees and community.

Using their employee feedback technology as a guide, Willamette Dental understood there was a need to implement initiatives to:

  • Expand DEI education for management and staff
  • Increase Affinity (DEI) Group enrollment
  • Incorporate DEI principles into their talent acquisition process

Using their pulse survey results as the backbone of their strategy, Willamette Dental established a cross-functional and diverse DEI Committee (DEIC) and provided DEI & Cultural Competency Trainings to all employees.

Onboarding for new employees emphasizes the significance of the DEI function, while routine DEI Surveys collect vital information and feedback from their workforce.

Active Affinity Groups offer valuable perspectives and recommendations to senior leadership, contributing to a workforce comprising approximately 80% female employees and over 50% female senior leadership—a unique distinction in the Pacific Northwest.

The role of Quantum Workplace's survey platform was pivotal in driving engagement and participation. As employees embraced the DEI initiatives, the impact was remarkable, with a significant over 40% increase in Affinity Group participation. Willamette Dental's owner actively supported and endorsed the DEI program, while each Affinity Group was led by an Executive Sponsor, creating a sense of commitment and accountability throughout the organization.

Communication was key to the success of their DEI strategy. The owner presented the annual results at a management meeting, and managers further disseminated changes and initiatives to their teams. Quantum Workplace's comprehensive reports, including Category Report, Items Report, and Comments Report, empowered managers to shape their action plans based on data-driven insights.

Employee feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. During a Willamette Pride event, "Amazing pictures, what a great event for Willamette to be a part of!” On their internal intranet, an article about the importance of properly pronouncing people’s names, one comment read “Fantastic post! Very interesting and makes me more aware of confirming name pronunciations!”

The ROI of Willamette Dental's new strategies is evident in the increased participation and engagement among employees. By leveraging Quantum Workplace's tools and fostering an inclusive work environment, Willamette Dental Group has paved the way for continued growth and a brighter, more diverse future for their organization.

What’s Next for Willamette Dental Group?

Willamette Dental Group remains steadfast in their commitment to enhance employee experiences and foster a culture of feeling valued and connected to their future. To achieve this, the dental group continues to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of employment-based experiences, such as pay, benefits, perks, and work-load, to ensure that every team member feels appreciated and respected.

The organization plans to conduct a thorough audit of performance-based experiences including awards, promotions, development, and recognition, to recognize and celebrate the contributions of its employees. They also plan to solicit additional feedback from teams, address person-based experiences to ensure that every individual is seen, heard, and feels a sense of belonging within the organization.

With a steadfast focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, Willamette Dental Group is committed to providing equitable and accessible oral healthcare for generations to come. In the short term, their commitment to the community includes scholarships and donations to support dental science education.

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