Andrea Hendricks, Senior Executive Director and Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion Officer, Cerner Corporation

Andrea Hendricks: Fostering Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement

Inclusive cultures foster engaged and high-performing teams that produce innovative outcomes. Building Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practices in the organization leads to an uplifting atmosphere. Inclusion involves actively engaging associates so that everyone’s thoughts, perspectives, and concepts are considered and celebrated. An empowering business leader builds an inclusive culture that attracts diversity.

Dr. Andrea Hendricks is one such empowering woman leader in business who fosters the culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As the Senior Executive Director and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Andrea leads Cerner Corporation’s global diversity, community, and philanthropy efforts in over 26 countries, representing more than 26,000 associates. She provides a strategic vision, inspiration, and focused leadership for development and implementation initiatives to strengthen intention, a culture of commitment, collaboration, and professional growth.

In an interview with Insights Success, Dr. Andrea Hendricks shares her journey and her contribution to promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through Cerner Corporation.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Give us a brief overview of your position at Cerner, and your journey since inception with Cerner Corporation.

Since joining Cerner in October 2018, I have been proud of the meaningful strides we have made in creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive culture. In 2019, Cerner began the journey to implement and promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace because associates, clients and our communities were ready for the next level of engagement around diversity and inclusion; one aimed at solutions.

My expanded role in Cerner includes the Cerner Charitable Foundation and Community Engagement, allowing us to continue to tightly align and persist Cerner’s community outreach. In addition, I am a member of the Human Resources Leadership Team. The HR strategy is making an impact on Cerner’s culture by driving strategy and engagement initiatives that foster organizational learning and an enhanced corporate diversity and inclusion vision for Cerner associates, leadership, and community collaborative partners.

What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture? In what ways do you implement it at your organization?

Positive work culture is central to everything. We must continue to evolve our culture to stay resilient and competitive. Due to the global pandemic and social unrest, we readjusted and re-defined our DEI approach and provided additional resources to meet these unique challenges.

Additional ways we are advancing our culture are through:

  • Associates Behaviors
  • Associate Business Resource Groups
  • Associate Cultural Engagement Activities
  • Volunteer Time Off–VTO
  • Community Giving and Engagement
  • Global Recognition Platform
  • Diversity Dialogue Sessions
  • Feedback Channels—Organizational Health Engagement Survey

What is your opinion on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments?

In my opinion, it is critically important for businesses to have advancing technologies to enable innovation. It is a key driver to staying cutting edge and having long-lasting competitive advantages. Organizations that improve and advance the speed of innovation for clients and continuously engage in the overall client experience will align for greater success and next practice technologies.

In what ways have you contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring in providing growth opportunities to stimulate human growth?

For me, community engagement is highly valued and extremely important in achieving professional and personal success. It goes hand in hand with a famous saying, “to whom much is given, much will be required or expected in time, talent and treasure.” We must help shape our communities in any way possible. I truly believe we share the responsibility to leave the community in a better place than how we found it.

Service is a part of who I am, and I enjoy seeing the outcomes of those engagement efforts. Serving on national and local boards, advisory committees, and volunteer service organizations whenever possible is important the helping drive our community engagement efforts. If given a chance, I would want to help all organizations develop a required day of giving or volunteering as a standard corporate practice. Cerner’s commitment related to community engagement continues to expand to reaffirm our support in this space. One of the benefit offerings for our associates is volunteer time off. Engaging in our global communities is the right and smart thing to do. We can get there together but everyone has to do their part to advance our global society.

In your opinion, what could be the future of health care information technology solutions?

In my opinion, organizations have a significant opportunity to continue to drive the next wave of healthcare in this space by advancing strategies that leverage technologies to create new types of value-added solutions for years to come, such as leveraging the intersectionality of diversity and health equity in future solutions. The healthcare industry is heading into a very exciting time of accelerated innovation. This is the moment everyone has been working towards.

How are you strategizing Cerner Corporation operations for that future?

My role is to work enterprise-wide to help operationalize diversity, equity and inclusion, community engagement and philanthropy efforts in tandem with the HR strategy. All associates play an important role in reinforcing a work environment that promotes diversity and inclusion. My role is to bring greater knowledge, understanding, awareness, influence behavior and create actions. This will guide us toward building a more diverse and inclusive work environment where associates at Cerner, from all backgrounds, help shape the future of healthcare.

We have three belief statements that highlight the importance of this work:

  • Viewing people by their capabilities and contributions enhances our mission
  • Diversity and inclusion provide valuable perspective, creativity, innovation, and experience to our workforce
  • The unique experiences of our associates from various cultures and backgrounds provide better solutions for our clients and contribute to an internal support system and social network for our associates

How do you envision on sustaining your company’s competency in a cutthroat and volatile world of business? Where do you see your company in the next five years?

In order to have a healthy, vibrant organization that thrives for the long term and performs in the short term, we must constantly evaluate and evolve both what we do and how we do it. Cerner is focused on initiatives that increase efficiency, ensure fit for growth, and create business simplification.

As an established leader, what would be your advice to the budding women entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into the industry?

My advice for women entrepreneurs aspiring into the industry—is just do it. Shatter the glass. There is no right time to aim for their goals. Throughout your career, ensure you connect with an alliance of business mentors/leaders and allies who can support your goals and outline the right vision, visibility, and voice for success.