Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

At Essentia Health, we believe that diverse life experiences and cultural backgrounds enable us to live our values more effectively and better serve our colleagues, patients, and broader communities. Creating an environment that supports diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is key to our mission of making a healthy difference in people’s lives. Our goal is to create a sense of belonging and an inclusive environment in which the contributions of all are welcomed, and Essentia Health is regarded as the best place to work and receive care.

View our mission and values page.

We Define Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in the Following Ways:

  • Diversity: Diversity is the broad mix of human and organizational differences, including unique beliefs, perspectives, experiences, identities, ideas and opinions. Creating a diverse organization is not enough – we also must focus on inclusion.
  • Equity: The practice of accounting for the differences in each individual’s starting point when pursuing a goal and working to remove barriers to equal opportunity by providing support based on the unique needs of each individual.
  • Inclusion: Inclusion is the practice of providing a sense of belonging to everyone, so every individual feels they are valued for the differences they bring. 
  • Belonging: Belonging is the feeling of psychological safety that is driven by a sense of feeling supported, cared for, valued and “seen” – the comfort in knowing that you can show up as your authentic self.

Our Commitment to Our Patients

  • Health equity

    As a part of our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), we will be asking our patients if they would like to expand the information that they provide to us about their race, ethnicity and preferred language. This information will allow us to learn more about the patients and communities we serve and enhance the care we provide. We want all of our patients to feel seen, heard and valued and know that they belong here.


    • Why is Essentia Health asking questions about race, ethnicity and language?

      Essentia Health is committed to creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcomed, where their voices will be heard, and where they know they are valued. Understanding our patients' race, ethnicity and language will help us to provide the best care possible to each individual patient we are privileged to care for.

    • Why should I answer these questions?

      Taking the time to answer the questions in MyChart will save patients time at their next appointment. Providing race, ethnicity, preferred language and religious or spiritual preference information to Essentia Health allows care teams to provide better care. As always, personal information about our patients will not be shared with others.

    • What will Essentia Health do with this information?

      By collecting more comprehensive race and ethnicity data, Essentia Health will be able to identify where gaps exist and design plans for providing the best care to everyone.

    • What if I do not want to answer these questions?

      Essentia Health respects the privacy of our patients and we will respect the wishes of patients who choose not to answer questions about race, ethnicity, preferred language or religious/spiritual preferences.

    • Who will this information be shared with?

      The information that patients provide to Essentia Health about their race, ethnicity, preferred language and spiritual/religious preferences will primarily be used by care teams to improve the care of each individual patient. However, the information may be shared in reports outside Essentia Health. These reports would include information about Essentia Health’s total combined patient population and would not include information about any specific patient.

  • Resourceful

    In the spring of 2021, Essentia Health collaborated with several other local and statewide organizations to launch a resource to help people with health-related social needs. In the two years since, the program has been a major success. More than 10,000 referrals have been placed, connecting people in need to community-based programs and services.

    The initiative is called Resourceful and helps people facing challenges — and those who help others — find and make referrals to free and reduced-cost resources for food, shelter, health care, work, financial assistance and more.

    “The growth of this program in two years really shows there is a need for these services — a need Essentia is proud to help fill,” said Emily Kuenstler, Essentia Health’s community health director. “Every day, Resourceful plays an instrumental role in uplifting our community and providing assistance to those in need, and we couldn’t be more excited to play a role in that.”

    Resourceful is not just a tool utilized by Essentia, but available for all community organizations, helpers and navigators, families and individuals to use for free.

    “At Essentia, we recognize much of health care happens outside our walls,” said Jill Doberstein, Essentia’s community outreach program manager. “Resourceful has given us a way to better collaborate with community organizations to connect our patients to community resources and to ensure people get the help they need.”

    Some of the most referred-to services through Resourceful involve food access, benefits assistance, behavioral health needs, transportation and housing.

    The program connects people to services in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Resourceful is a collaborative effort between Essentia Health, Wilderness Health, Generations Health Care Initiatives and United Way of Cass-Clay, who have partnered with Find Help to provide this free online platform.

  • Chosen name

    Our mission to make a healthy difference in the lives of those we serve calls us to listen and improve. As a result of feedback from our patients, changes were made to our electronic medical record to make sure our employees are addressing our patients by the names they have told us they would like to be called, rather than their legal names. This important work is necessary to ensure we nurture an inclusive environment for all our patients, their families and our employees. Patients see their chosen name on wrist bands, letters, medication labels, letters to guarantors, return to work/school communications, letters to referring providers and laboratory labels. Our mission and values are reflected in these changes, and it is critical that all Essentia Health patients receive high-quality, safe care and every individual is consistently treated with dignity and respect.

  • Gender-affirming care

    Guided by our mission and values, Essentia Health provides care to everyone who entrusts us with that privilege and responsibility, including transgender persons.

    Gender-affirming care is for patients whose sex assigned at birth does not align with their true gender. Sometimes, this causes anxiety, sadness or pain — also known as gender dysphoria. Essentia Health offers care for those who want to go through medical transition, for those who have already transitioned and for those who do not wish to transition.

    Essentia Health’s compassionate, trained gender-affirming care professionals provide care that respects each unique individual. Our gender-affirming care team members are knowledgeable about the health and social challenges unique to transgender patients and are committed to creating an environment where patients can talk openly and comfortably about their sexual orientation and gender identity. We are building our team, and we have services ranging from primary care to plastic surgery. More information can be found on our gender-affirming care page.

  • Honoring our patients and their family members’ spiritual preferences

    Essentia Health is committed to the holistic care of those we serve by providing spiritual care and chaplaincy services to patients, residents, families, colleagues and the community. Professional chaplains provide spiritual care to people of all spiritual traditions, cultures and beliefs. Essentia recognizes the importance of establishing and maintaining standards of care for chaplains to ensure consistent and compassionate care.

    Chaplains collaborate with the interdisciplinary team to ensure patients’ and residents’ spiritual care needs are integrated into the plan of care. They assist patients, residents and families with treatment decisions, end-of-life care support and grief support. Chaplains assist with advance care planning to ensure that health care decisions align with patients’ values and beliefs.

    Chaplains also:

    • Educate members of the clinical team about the importance of assessing patients’ spiritual care needs when developing the overall care plan.
    • Help members of the clinical team to understand the key role chaplains play in patient care and staff support.
    • Orient new employees to the importance of spiritual care.
    • Provide staff support after stressful incidents.

    Essentia is committed to honoring and supporting religious observances and rituals that are sensitive to the cultural and faith diversity of patients, families, residents and communities we serve. We partner with the local diocese to ensure patients, residents and staff have access to receive sacraments. Properly prepared lay Catholics can be appointed to serve as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, in accordance with canon law and the policies of the local diocese. Protestant chaplains will provide sacramental support to protestant patients, residents and staff. Essentia will facilitate collaborations with faith leaders not represented within the chaplain team to ensure spiritual and ritual needs of patients and residents of other faith traditions are honored. We invite faith community leaders into Essentia facilities to provide spiritual care to patients and families.

    In a similar way, Essentia provides the space and ability for people of a variety of religious traditions to participate in healing rituals. We extend invitation to faith community partners to participate in Essentia sponsored educational events and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) programs. We also invite faith community partners to participate in Community Health Needs Assessments and community health partnerships. More information can be found on our CHNA page.

  • Patient and Family Advisory Council

    Essentia Health’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) brings colleagues, patients, family members and community members who seek care at Essentia Health together to advise on what makes them feel safest and most cared for when it comes to their care. The goal is to uplift our patients' and families' voices, giving them the autonomy and ability to inspire meaningful changes across Essentia. These are the people who entrust us with their care, and it is our responsibility to deliver on the changes that are most important to them. Feedback on the Patient and Family Advisory Council is collected by Essentia’s Patient Experience team and shared with leaders across the organization who can use the information to make impactful decisions. Learn more about our patient and family advisory councils.

  • Interpretation and sign language services

    Essentia Health is committed to providing free, professional interpretation services for patients who wish to communicate in a language other than English or for patients who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Patients are encouraged to request an interpreter when scheduling an appointment. In the case of an emergency, patients are encouraged to tell the triage nurse that language assistance is needed. Learn more about Essentia Health’s interpreter services.

  • Renee Van Nett lecture series

    Renee Van Nett, who passed away in June 2022 at the age of 52, was the first Native American woman elected to Duluth's city council and the first Native American to serve as council president. She was a founding member of the Duluth Citizen Review Board, which was created to advise the city's police department. She was a strong advocate for the underserved, her labor union brothers and sisters and Indigenous communities. In honor of Van Nett’s life and work, Essentia Health launched an annual lectureship in May 2023 called. “Learning from Influential Leaders.” Joseph Nayquonabe of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, who serves as Chief Executive Officer and board chair of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, was the keynote speaker. The event was free, open to the public and offered Continuing Medical Education credit for providers.

  • Mobile outreach

    Mobile mammograms
    Essentia Health brings a mobile mammography unit to clinics where mammography is not available. In addition to offering mobile mammography at its own clinics, Essentia provides outreach to tribal clinics to lessen the impact of health care disparities for Native Americans. Underserved and vulnerable populations are more heavily impacted by breast cancer, compared with non-vulnerable populations. Cancer mortality rates for Native Americans are among the highest of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Our goal is to partner with tribal clinics to provide the screening access they need in an environment where patients feel safe. By providing access through the mobile unit, we can help reduce the barriers to care, foster a culture of trust through intentional collaboration, and in turn prevent advanced breast cancers in indigenous communities.

    COVID-19 vaccination outreach
    Essentia Health worked hard to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines were administrated to community members as equitably as possible. We recognize that our decisions and vaccine planning efforts have a significant impact on those we are privileged to serve. To guide our decisions, we relied on the following ethical principles to administer vaccine:

    • Promoting justice
    • Maximizing benefits and minimizing harms
    • Mitigating health inequities
    • Promoting transparency
    • Increasing access

    Our underserved, low-income, persons with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities were disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In alignment with our mission, we prioritized these community members for vaccinations and tasked our Community Outreach team with planning measures that helped mitigate health inequities. Our Community Outreach team reached those who were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 due to compounding factors with social determinants of health.

    A key component of our work was mobilizing vaccination teams to host vaccine events in our communities. We relied on community-based organizations that serve underserved, low-income, persons with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to inform the locations, times and dates we scheduled community vaccine clinics. We also asked for their assistance to identify eligible individuals for vaccine. These community clinics were held at neighborhood churches and community centers in underserved areas. Collaboration and engagement with community-based organizations, such as Health Equity Northland, Healthy Hillside Coalition, the Family Freedom Center, parish nurses and others were vital in the success of reaching Communities of Focus.

    Prioritized appointments at existing vaccine clinics
    We learned that we could maximize our impact within Communities of Focus if we also offered prioritized appointments at our existing vaccine clinics. Our Community Outreach team worked with trusted community partners to develop lists of individuals who met current vaccination criteria set by the state and were part of these communities. Essentia used that information to prioritize appointment scheduling at a date, time and location that best met the individual’s needs. Community health workers worked to provide scheduling, transportation and education to ensure these individuals had access to get vaccinated.

Our Commitment to Our Colleagues

  • Chosen name and personal pronouns

    Greeting every patient and colleague in the way they would like to be addressed is directly aligned with our Benedictine values of hospitality, respect and justice. Using someone’s correct personal pronouns and chosen name is a way to show respect. By addressing others according to their preference, we continue to build a culture of belonging and inclusion that is aligned with the organizational values we work to model every day. Essentia Health encourages the use of personal pronouns and has updated our information systems to support this. We also offer badge extenders to display personal pronouns for colleagues, vendors, students and others.

  • Learning and Development

    Essentia Health provides foundational training required of all colleagues focused on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, including:

    • Introduction to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB): This module focuses on establishing foundational knowledge of key concepts and how each of us can be an advocate for DEIB for our colleagues, our patients and the organization.
    • Inclusive Culture: We are all instrumental in creating a diverse and inclusive culture at Essentia Health. What we do each day influences our workplace culture and relationships. This module presents key behaviors each of us can aspire to in our daily interactions with our colleagues and patients to best enable and support all people to feel seen, accepted and valued.
    • Inclusive Leadership: A companion to Inclusive Culture, in this module leaders explore five key behaviors inclusive leaders demonstrate in their everyday interactions to foster a workplace where all colleagues feel heard, seen, accepted and valued.
    • Conscious Inclusion: Coming in 2024, this module will examine the innate preferences each of us has and the impact they have on others. It will highlight individual and organizational strategies that help us to value and leverage our differences so that together we can make a healthy difference in people’s lives.

    These modules are just a small part of a comprehensive leadership development curriculum for colleagues at all levels of the organization. As we consider every colleague to be a leader, learning opportunities (instructor-led and web-based trainings) are offered at four levels:

    • Leading self.
    • Leading others.
    • Leading a department or function.
    • Leading the organization.

    In addition, all colleagues participate in regular development conversations with their leader to support ongoing growth and development.

  • Employee Engagement

    We believe that getting a "pulse" on how our colleagues are feeling is key to creating an inclusive and engaging workplace. Thus, three times a year, we conduct an organization-wide engagement pulse survey to gather this important data, followed by team conversations based on the results. While all our pulse surveys ask some key questions about engagement and well-being, each survey has a different focus, including:

    • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB)
    • Recognition and Retention
    • Safety (including psychological safety) and Workplace Violence Prevention

    In addition, our nurses, physicians and advanced practice clinicians have additional survey opportunities focused on our Nursing Magnet journey and on clinician well-being.

  • Colleague well-being

    Health care institutions have a moral obligation to attend to the well-being of their employees, particularly in this era of the Great Resignation. The Office of Well-Being (OWB) at Essentia Health was established in 2021 to develop strategies that impart a well-being lens to our professional culture, understanding that personal well-being strategies alone do not address the sources of stress and burnout. Some of the initiatives of the OWB are as follows:

    • Employee Support Line for colleagues in acute distress
    • Clinician Peer Support network (physicians and advanced practice clinicians)
    • Broader Colleague Peer Support network (training in progress)
    • Team Well-Being Recommendations (project of diverse departments across the organization emphasizing flexibility, meeting stewardship, recognition and appreciation)
    • Strategic Partnerships (e.g., Nursing Magnet, Clinical Informatics, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging)
    • Leadership Trainings (compassion, emotional intelligence)
    • Schwartz Rounds
    • Yearly burnout survey for physicians and advanced practice clinicians
    • CARE Champions (volunteer network of well-being leaders to advance strategies within their spheres of influence)
    • Coalition of MN Health Care Systems (state-wide collaborative of systems engaged in well-being efforts)
  • Together We Thrive – supporting community service

    Essentia Health is proud to support our colleagues’ community service hours with the Together We Thrive program. Together We Thrive rewards our colleagues’ volunteerism in the communities we serve with a $100 contribution to the eligible non-profit organization of their choice.

  • Recruiting a diverse workforce

    Essentia has a variety of ways to attract and retain a diverse workforce.  Attracting new talent is an ongoing priority at Essentia and health systems nationwide, and our Workforce Strategy team is at the forefront of engaging with job seekers. This included educating career counselors at six organizations within Essentia’s service area, who represent a total of 1,200 job seekers, about entry-level opportunities in health care. In addition, the team coordinates the New American Workforce initiative in the Fargo area to assist immigrants in pursuing careers with us.

    Advocating for New-Americans
    Essentia has hired and deployed a New American Community Health Specialist to engage with area immigrant and BIPOC communities in employee recruitment and retention. We have provided funding to a range of New American nonprofits to train and help BIPOC individuals find gainful employment at Essentia and other employers in the community and we have also shared information on funding and training opportunities as well as referral services with leaders and organizations serving area New American and BIPOC communities. Community Health Specialist Rashid Hussein upholds justice in his work to reduce disparities and cultivate access to affordable, quality health care. He also works to build bridges between New American job-seeking populations and Essentia by identifying ways to attract and retain colleagues in this workforce.

    “Justice means equal access to opportunities and services as well as dignity and respect to all,” says Rashid. “My leadership at Essentia has empowered me to advocate for the needs of the New American community by identifying the challenges they encounter and highlighting their strengths and resiliency.”

    International Registered Nurse Recruitment Program
    Essentia Health blazed a new path this year in the global talent pool as we launched our international recruitment efforts for registered nurses. Within the first few months, we successfully hired 25 registered nurses (RN), representing 15 different countries, who are now all beginning their immigration process. Our international RN recruitment efforts are a critical part of helping Essentia Health meet the growing demands of having experienced, diverse staff to better meet the health and well-being needs of the communities we serve.

    Fair chance hiring guide
    As an organization driven by mission and values, Essentia Health focuses on living out each of our identified values of hospitality, stewardship, joy, quality, teamwork, respect and justice every day. We live our value of justice by advocating for those lacking power, maintaining respectful working relationships, fighting prejudice and working to promote equity and fairness. To this end, Essentia Health welcomes applicants with diverse life experiences to apply for positions within our system. The Essentia Health fair chance hiring guide was created to help career counselors and job seekers understand how past criminal records may influence applications for employment at Essentia Health. The guide also discusses the process of appealing a background check in cases where the individual’s personal history since conviction may warrant a special review of their circumstances. Since its creation, the guide has been distributed to multiple workforce partners to help clarify the background check requirements of working in health care and to encourage those who might have thought the opportunity for a good paying job with excellent benefits was out of reach for them due to their criminal history to apply.

    Support for differently abled communities
    One of Essentia’s goals is to introduce students to health care careers at Essentia with hands-on career-exploration events, like the Health, Tech & Trades Career Expo in Fargo and Discover Healthcare in Hibbing, Duluth and Ashland. The team also leads partnerships with Project SEARCH, an internship program for youth with disabilities, in Superior and Detroit Lakes and UDAC, an organization in Duluth whose vision is to "create community where opportunity is accessible to individuals of all abilities, one person, one career, one possibility at a time."  When these students are ready for college, we partner with them as their career develops. For example, in collaboration with The College of St. Scholastica, Essentia pays a student’s way to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) so they can work as a member of our team while pursuing other health care-related degrees.

  • Career development opportunities

    At Essentia, we take pride in developing the next generation of health care workers. Through our workforce initiatives, we are committed to offering a personalized work experience like nowhere else, encouraging and supporting all colleagues to meet their individual and career goals while living their calling. We offer access to education and training opportunities, including:

    • Computer skills learning labs
    • Clinical skill-building simulation lab
    • Continuing Education Units
    • E-learning, classroom and multimedia resources
    • Leadership skill-building and toolkits
    • Tuition reimbursement
    • Grant tuition opportunities
    • Quality and service improvement tools
    • Mentoring
    • Job Shadowing
  • Colleague Resource Groups

    Colleague Resource Groups (CRGs) are a network of employees that help to build a culture of inclusion and belonging. They provide a voluntary space for colleagues to gather, connect and work collaboratively. CRGs help to create an environment that embraces and leverages the culture of employees; fosters connection, talent growth and development; and encourages meaningful community involvement.

    Our current Colleague Resource Groups include: Black, Indigenous, New American, LGBTQIA2S+ and DEIB Advocates..

  • Workplace spirituality (connection, meaning and purpose)

    Essentia Health is committed to fostering an environment where colleagues feel connection, meaning and purpose to their day-to-day work and colleague relationships through supportive programs, rituals, practices and celebrations. Essentia is committed to supporting the resilience of colleagues as they encounter grief, trauma and complex patient/family situations at work as well as supporting their personal well-being.

    Essentia recognizes the importance of healing environments for patients, families and residents, as well as colleagues. Broadcasted daily prayer is provided in Catholic facilities and online for all colleagues.

    At Essentia, we:

    • Begin gatherings and meetings with a reflection or prayer and patient story to help colleagues connect with a deeper purpose of their work.
    • Create environments conducive to healing in design of internal and external space, use of art, gardens, music, private space and technology.
    • Designate chapel or defined space for reflection, prayer and worship in hospitals, long-term care facilities and where appropriate.
    • Conduct blessings of new spaces recognizing the sacredness of where the work takes place and where care is received.

    We also commit to the well-being of our colleagues and teams. That includes:

    • Providing programs and resources for individuals and teams that promote well-being and resilience.
    • Providing services and resources for crisis support to address emotional distress.
    • Demonstrating gratitude for colleagues and teams that live our mission through recognition and celebrations.
    • Conducting employee memorial services.
  • Equal employment opportunity (EEO) compliance and commitment

    It is our policy to afford EEO to all individuals, regardless of race, religion, color, sex, pregnancy, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, family medical history, genetic information, sexual orientation, marital status, military service or veteran status, culture, socio-economic status, status with regard to public assistance and other factors not related to qualifications, including employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss or disclose their compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants, or membership or activity in a local human rights commission or any other category as defined by law.

    Essentia Health adheres to the EEO requirements of all states and localities in which we do business and will take affirmative action to ensure that our practices are free of discrimination. Our commitment to equal opportunity is applied through every aspect of the employment relationship, including, but not limited to, recruitment, selection, placement, training, compensation, promotion, transfer, termination and all other matters of employment.

  • Veterans/active-duty military members

    Essentia Health is dedicated to the recruitment and assistance of veterans during their transition to civilian life. Our team collaborates with state and local workforce development systems to not only encourage veterans to apply for our open positions but also to introduce health care opportunities as potential career paths after their military service. Essentia Health has also recently received approval for its first GI Bill approved position of pharmacy technician at the new St. Mary's Medical Center. This enables veterans to utilize their hard-earned benefits for a seamless transition into this role.

Commitment to the Communities We Live in and Serve

  • Commitment to affordable housing

    At Essentia, we are committed to improving the health of our patients both within the walls of our facilities and in the communities we serve.

    Over the last three years, we have committed more than $1.8 million to housing initiatives. Those funds have assisted dozens of our nonprofit partners while impacting more than 13,000 people.

    We also support our own colleagues through down payment assistance programs if they choose to buy homes in Duluth’s Central Hillside neighborhood, helping more than 100 colleagues since the program began.

    One example is the Brewery Creek Apartment Complex. We committed nearly $1.5 million to help bring this affordable housing project in Duluth to fruition. Brewery Creek Apartments will be five stories tall and bring 52 affordable units to Duluth’s Central Hillside near the corner of Sixth Avenue East and Fourth Street. Over the past three years, Essentia has partnered on Central Hillside housing initiatives that will bring 145 units to our neighborhood – including the 52 units at Brewery Creek Apartments. This also includes helping to finance the neighboring Brewery Creek Terrace.

    Another example of our commitment to affordable housing is the Housing and Health Equity Fellowship. Essentia is one of six Minnesota health systems studying the community impact of investments and practices to address social determinants of health through housing.

  • Commitment to food access

    Essentia Health rescued nearly 233,000 pounds of food and contributed $560,000 through our partnership with Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.

  • Community health needs assessments

    Every three years, Essentia Health conducts studies of the communities we serve to learn how we can make a healthy difference beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics. The studies are called Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA), and they are an opportunity for us to partner with other health systems and community organizations in our service areas. A CHNA creates a detailed, comprehensive picture of communities based on data such as birth rates, income, tobacco use and other factors. During the CHNA development process, our colleagues work alongside community partners to engage with area residents, identify priority community health needs and develop strategies to address those needs.

    You can view our most recent Community Health Needs Assessments and implementation plans on our community health needs assessments page.

    Read about Essentia Health's efforts to make a healthy difference in the communities we are privileged to serve here on our community engagement page.

  • Investing in the communities we serve

    At Essentia, we cherish the patients and communities we are privileged to serve. That is why we do more than care for patients who come through our doors. Our commitment to our communities extends beyond our walls. We get involved in the communities we serve. We want to help all people, our patients, their families and friends and our neighbors, live safe, healthy and active lives.

    Essentia Health actively partners with local agencies and organizations to make a healthy difference in new and innovative ways in the areas we serve. We are committed to advancing our mission through contributions to organizations that support our neighborhoods, such as:

    • (WIN-Liberia) Women Initiative Network of Liberia in Cass and Clay Counties
    • A Place to Belong
    • Abused Adult Resource Center
    • American Red Cross
    • Boys & Girls Clubs
    • Cultural Diversity Resources
    • Churches United in Ministry
    • ESHARA
    • Faith4Hope Scholarship Fund
    • First Call for Help
    • Jasmin Child Care and Preschool
    • Jeremiah Program Fargo-Moorhead
    • Just Kids Dental
    • Kids’ Closet
    • Local farmers’ markets
    • Mentor North
    • New American Development Agency (NADA)
    • One Roof Community Housing
    • Rural Enrichment and Counseling Headquarters, Inc. (REACH)
    • Salvation Army
    • Second Harvest Food Bank
    • Soul Solutions Recovery Center Inc.
    • South Sudanese Foundation
    • The Refuge
    • United Way
    • YMCA
  • Underrepresented workers

    Prior to the launch of the construction project called Vision Northland that replaced St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, Essentia Health made a commitment to ensure a diverse workforce. Throughout the life of the project, thousands of construction workers put in nearly three million hours building this hospital, which will advance health care in Duluth, improve the patient and staff experience and contribute to the economic vitality of our region — now and for generations to come. We are proud that groups traditionally underrepresented in construction projects, such as women, minorities and veterans. made up more than 22% of workers on the project. This is more than double the goal Essentia set for a diverse workforce at the start of the project.

  • Land acknowledgement

    A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in July for the replacement St. Mary's Medical Center on our Duluth campus. The festivities included a prayer by Sister Beverly Raway, a blessing from the Duluth Diocese Bishop Daniel Felton and remarks by Chief Executive Officer David C. Herman, MD, and public officials. A land acknowledgement ceremony was also held, recognizing that the replacement hospital is built on the traditional, ancestral and contemporary lands of Indigenous people. We built on land cared for and called home by the Anishinaabe people and other Native peoples from time immemorial. Ceded by the Anishinaabe/Ojibwe in an 1854 treaty, this land holds great historical, spiritual and personal significance for its original stewards. We seek to build strong and respectful relationships with the Native people and the communities we are privileged to serve.


  • Supplier diversity

    Essentia Health tracks our spending for purchasing supplies from diverse organizations, including those that are veteran-owned, women-owned and minority-owned as well as small businesses. In the last 12 months, $2.37 million of our supply budget supported minority and diverse business owners.

Our Approach

Essentia’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is grounded in our mission and values and is supported and sponsored by Essentia’s leaders.

At Essentia Health, we are committed to focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion as part of our organization’s top strategic initiatives to foster justice inside and outside our walls. We recognize that health care inequity is a significant problem in our society, and we are on a journey as an organization to better understand this and make meaningful change. We are setting system-wide strategic goals to help us address these inequities,” said Essentia Health Chief Executive Officer David C. Herman, MD.

We have an opportunity to consider our own accountability in creating a more just, inclusive and equitable world – regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or education and income levels. Let’s embrace this opportunity to deeply consider what each of us as an individual, and Essentia Health as an organization, must do to fulfill our mission and our values. What’s next, what’s our role, how do we make an impact – these are all questions we must address today and into the future.

Our value of justice directs us on this important and challenging journey. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated: “There can be no justice without peace, and there can be no peace without justice.” This call to action was also supported by Pope Paul VI when he said, “If you want peace, work for justice.” It is clear there is much work to be done by all of us, together. Centuries of injustice cannot be alleviated in a short period of time. Yet every day we strive to be better than the previous day, and tomorrow, we aim to be better than today through the actions we take as individuals and as an organization. By embracing our values of respect and justice, we can both find common ground and celebrate our differences. Our Benedictine heritage directs us to “welcome all as Christ” – to create a welcoming, safe and secure place for all, in our health care facilities and in our hearts. We look forward to continuing our work with all of us here at Essentia and with our partners in the community to live our values of justice and respect.

Structure and Governance

Our DEIB organizational strategy reinforces our continued commitment to DEIB and outlines the multipronged efforts necessary to achieve our goals. To oversee this strategy, Essentia health has assembled a multidisciplinary team of executive leaders to serve as members of the DEIB Executive Steering Committee. This committee is a governance body that approves standards, guides strategy and monitors the organization’s performance of our DEIB goals.

The DEIB Resource Committee is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of Essentia Health leaders and stakeholders directly involved in the key work streams outlined in the DEIB strategic plan. These individuals are responsible for driving the work as defined in the DEIB strategic plan as we bring our DEIB work together under one cohesive umbrella.

Strategic Priorities

Essentia’s strategic priorities related to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging include:

  • Creating a plan to address health equity and health care disparities. In the fall of 2023, we launched a new process to collect more comprehensive data around race, ethnicity and language.
  • Launching a DEIB training and education plan for all colleagues, which includes an introductory module on DEIB, a module for leaders on inclusive leadership, a module for all colleagues on inclusive culture and a module on conscious inclusion/unconscious bias.
  • Creating a plan to launch Colleague Resource Groups.
  • Asking for feedback from our colleagues around specific DEIB questions yearly via our employee pulse survey.
  • Auditing our employment policies with a DEIB equity lens, identifying gaps and making changes.
  • Updating and aligning our talent management and workforce development processes to hire, develop and retain a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
  • Developing and strengthening our community partnerships, which are foundational to the success of this ongoing work.

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