The COVID-19 pandemic’s revelation of racial and gender disparities and the nationwide demonstrations about racism inspired by brutal police behavior have produced demands for major changes in our society and its institutions. Many call for new approaches to promote the welfare of a diverse population, including those whose needs have often been denied or neglected.

Currently, the press and public are preoccupied with electing government leaders who can deal with these challenges. Numerous publications have identified women prime ministers distinguished by their effective handling of COVID-19. Articles point to helpful characteristics typically associated with women: being open to listening to advice from others, acting with and expressing compassion, and fostering collaboration.

We need such leaders in all society’s critical institutions that must be reimagined in order to play their part in creating a more equitable future. Among the most important of the non-governmental institutions are nonprofit colleges and universities and health systems (so-called “eds and meds”). Ten of the twenty largest employers in the Philadelphia region are nonprofit eds and meds. They have a huge impact on the lives of countless students, patients, and employees as well as on their surrounding communities, and they contribute massively to our economy and quality of life. Many hospitals and universities are being forced to think creatively in order to continue to survive and to serve their constituents.

Whether they change in ways that promote diversity and inclusion depends in large part on those who make key decisions—leaders who are appointed as chief executives and board members to govern. Some may say this is not the time to advocate for more diverse leaders, but the truth is that this is exactly the right time for change. As they navigate an uncertain future, eds and meds need leaders who will think “outside the box” and will envision and enable more equitable and sustainable organizations.

Read the full article about diversifying leaders by Carolyn T. Adams and Vicki W. Kramer at BoardSource.