CoxHealth named its first-ever diversity, equity and inclusion officer.
Heather Hardinger started Dec. 6 as chief diversity officer for the health care system, according to a news release. A Springfield City Council member, she comes to CoxHealth with experience in diversity and inclusion, as well as workforce development, most notably five years with the Taney County Partnership. She recently had a stint with Connell Insurance Inc. as a business solutions and talent strategy officer, according to her LinkedIn profile.
“I’m thrilled to join CoxHealth as its first leader dedicated to building on the important work of diversity, equity and inclusion under the organization’s mission and values – to be the best for those who need us with safety, compassion, respect and integrity,” Hardinger said in the release. “The best way to serve our patients, employees and communities is to ensure we can provide and maintain safe, welcoming environments for all as we serve, heal, educate and innovate.
"I look forward to bringing the best of who I am to this new role to advance diversity, inclusion and health equity as essential components to providing exceptional care to the communities we serve.”
As CoxHealth's chief diversity officer, Hardinger will work to address health disparities, reach underserved populations and identify gaps in equality and awareness for patients and employees.
CoxHealth President CEO Steve Edwards said Hardinger's hiring would help "attract and retain the most talented staff possible."
"For us to be at our very best, we must create an environment that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion," he said in the release. "We want to invite all people with the talent and dedication to serve our patients to find a place to prosper on our team."
Read the profiles of this year's honorees.