As part of a sustainable and systemwide commitment to listen, pray, learn and act to help address racism and systemic injustice, Ascension, one of the nation’s leading and largest nonprofit Catholic health systems, has launched a new justice-focused framework called ABIDE, which is built upon the hallmarks of Appreciation – Belongingness – Inclusivity – Diversity – Equity.
The hallmarks of the ABIDE framework are demonstrations of Ascension’s historic mission, values, and commitment to social justice, compassionate action and advocacy for all, especially the most vulnerable.
“We have a shared responsibility and accountability, as individuals and as a ministry, to lead and model the changes we wish to see in our communities of valuing inclusion, justice and equity for all,” said Ascension President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Impicciche, JD, MHA. “This will not be an easy journey, but it is one we must take together. We must all ensure that individuals are treated justly and respectfully with equal access to opportunities and resources. We must also provide an inclusive culture where our associates feel valued, appreciated and welcome to contribute fully to Ascension’s success and mission as they become agents for positive change in their communities.”
In response to the death of George Floyd, Joe Impicciche publicly voiced his support for justice and peace and the need to address racism and systemic injustice with words and actions. He also called upon his leadership team to develop a long-term, sustainable plan to make inclusion, belongingness and social justice a sustained and systemwide effort.
Our commitment to welcome all as we stand against racism and systemic injustice
As a Catholic health ministry, we have a unique obligation and calling – reflected in our very mission statement – to advocate for a more just and compassionate society in words and actions. We share in the call to accountability and advocacy against systemic racism and injustice. All of us share in the responsibility for using our time and talents to work toward eradicating discrimination.
We have recommitted to bring about the just and compassionate society that is so central to our historic mission. We recognize that fostering a more inclusive culture and advocating for social justice can help to provide more equitable employment opportunities for all while also helping to remedy the healthcare disparities that have been perpetuated by racism and systemic injustice.
We also acknowledge that this is only the beginning of a journey that will require open hearts and minds, transparency, courage, humility, determination, truth, honesty and grace along the way as we engage in an ongoing process to learn more about ourselves, our neighbors, and the impact of our operations so we can foster a more inclusive culture – both within Ascension and in the wider community.
We stand firm in this commitment and invite all individuals and communities to engage in ongoing conversation to further this shared commitment.
Listening: A critical step on the path to action and justice
We believe the way forward to address racism and systemic injustice must involve the critical first step of listening. The act of listening with empathy to the voices and viewpoints of others offers an opportunity for us to acknowledge and better understand the different realities many of us experience.
“To help guide and inform meaningful action, we believe it’s critical that we create the environment to listen to each other so that we can learn from our experiences with injustice and systemic racism,” said Herbert Vallier, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Ascension. “Listening to the personal stories, perspectives and sometimes painful experiences of others, including our associates and colleagues, is the first step of our commitment to foster and sustain an inclusive and welcoming environment across Ascension. It’s vital that we understand any biases or blind spots that may contribute to disparities and inequities in how we treat our colleagues and the patients and communities we serve.”
Modeling positive change to foster a more inclusive and diverse culture and community
ABIDE is the framework for how we at Ascension seek to live out our mission as a health ministry in a way that celebrates the inherent dignity of each and every person. This work will be ongoing and require participation from everyone in order for changes to be lasting and transformative. We are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion across all areas of our ministry.
“Within Ascension, inclusion is an active and culturally transformative way of living that shows up in how we value differences, welcome individuals to serve with us, ensure that each associate has the opportunity to attain their full potential and flourish in dignity as human persons, and provide welcoming environments and compassionate care to all persons,” said Timm Glover, Executive Vice President and Chief Mission Integration Officer, Ascension.
We also realize that the hallmarks of our ABIDE framework provide guidance for a process of learning and improvement that is never complete. As such, Ascension is committed to continuous improvement and has developed various methods to help us review the progress we make achieving the hallmarks of the ABIDE framework in service to our associates, patients and the communities we are blessed to serve.