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The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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ODI : unit-faqs


1. What do the terms/concepts “Persity” and “Inclusion” mean?


Persity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. It means respect for and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, physical abilities, sexual orientation, sexual preference, language, social status, education, culture, religion, etc. [Note: for additional information see ‘Definitions’ tab on the D&I web page].


Inclusion is a state of being valued, respected and supported as an individual or group. It’s about focusing on the needs of every individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential. Inclusion should be reflected in an organization’s culture, practices and relationships that are in place to support a perse workforce. [Note: for additional information see ‘Definitions’ tab on the D&I web page].

2. What is workforce (aka “workplace”) persity?

Similarities and differences among employees in terms of such things as age, cultural background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Source: Business

Workplace persity refers to the variety of differences between people in an organization. persity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background and more. persity not only involves how people perceive themselves, but how they perceive others. Those perceptions affect their interactions. [Note: for additional information see ‘Definitions’ tabon the D&I web page].

Source: Josh Greenberg; Workplace persity:Benefits,Challenges, and Solutions;

3. What steps are being taken to make the DHMH workforce more perse?

The Office of persity and Inclusion (OD&I) was created in 2008 by Secretary Colmers.  Subsequently, in collaboration with other DHMH units and programs, the OD&I has completed the initial persity assessment of the DHMH workforce.  By documenting the demographic metrics as of the end of CY 2009, this assessment (completed in 2010) and its accompanying reports will serve to establish the baseline needed to monitor and track the Department’s progress in improving the demographic composition (i.e., age, race, ethnicity, gender, etc) of the DHMH workforce focusing on key elements (employment status categories, managerial and administrative positions, compensation, etc.) and indicators. In addition to the initial workforce audit and report, the office has accomplished the following since its inception, in collaboration with the Office of Human Resources’ Training Services pision:

  • Creation of the OD&I web page
  • Implementation of the Core Values Survey (results to be posted on the DHMH web site)
  • Enhancement of the Management Training Forums (to include topics on both persity and inclusion as well as cultural competence)
  • Initiation of an internship pilot program with area Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in conjunction with Coppin State University in Baltimore
  • Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and HR Search and Assistance Round Table Forums- initial forum conducted in collaboration with the Legislative Black Caucus in Annapolis (November, 2010)

[For current and future projects, programs, and activities, see the ‘Projects’ tab featured on the D&I web page]

 4. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages to having a perse workplace?

From various sources (public and private sectors; large and small organizations), the following are some of the most frequently identified advantages and disadvantages associated with a persified workforce:


  • relationships (long term: greater understanding and appreciation for differences as a result of  interactions over time; enhanced cohesiveness and broader scope of options)
  • increased ability to understand and connect with an increasingly perse customer/client base
  • increased productivity and performance (planning, preparation, positioning, processes, and results)
  • increase in the perceived legitimacy of the organization
  • better decision making
  • greater creativity
  • improved problem solving/avoidance
  • more successful marketing and outreach
  • greater employee buy-in, support, confidence and loyalty
  • greater employee return-on-investment
  • leadership and management


  • relationships (short term: potential conflict and “push-back” as employees respond to ‘change’ expectations; negative response to requirements about collaborating with “outsiders”/people who exhibit differences).
  • more and different managerial skills and attributes
  • ineffective communication mediums and resources/miscommunication
  • another leadership function and focus
  • cultural bias
  • organizational transformation costs
  • redirection of resources (energy, time, technology, etc- largely initial expenditures needed to overcome traditional institutional, and systemic barriers and impediments to adapting to new realities and opportunities)
  • required long-term commitment
  • comfort zones
  • social integration issues
  • increased conflicts
  • inertia
  • increased/redirection of resources
  • reduced margins and social capital
  • ambiguity/multiple perspectives
  • longer cohesiveness attainment and “team building” times

5. How does DHMH support workforce persity and inclusion?

By developing and executing strategies and plans to achieve and sustain acceptable results in:

  • improving the rates of persity in our workplace, and
  • increasing the scope and level of employee participation (inclusion) in the planning, development, implementation and evaluation of our programs, services, and work environment.

This will necessitate collaborations that involve our Executive, D&I and HR offices, and senior leaders and managers throughout the organization. These required strategies, steps, and timetables will be spelled out in the Department’s forthcoming Strategic D&I Management Plan.

6. How will DHMH implement and promote inclusion and workforce persity?

DHMH will aggressively promote these concepts and practices throughout the agency utilizing multiple strategies. Our first strategy will be to incorporate both inclusion and workforce persity into the Department’s Performance Accountability projects for all departments, facilities, and programs. This will involve the incorporation of related progress performance tools and metrics in plans, assessments, evaluations, MFRs, PEPs, MS-22s, etc. Performance accountability expectations will be established, monitored, tracked and reported not only for the Department as a whole, but for all hiring managers, senior staff, and Executive staff with supervisory responsibilities. This expansion in the scope of managerial performance expectations will focus on explicit results and outcomes associated with the composition, work environment, relationships, and product/service performance of every manager.  In addition we will work to strategically expand and enhance the various tools, programs, and services that will be used to advocate, facilitate, inform, cultivate, monitor, assess, track and report our progress in transforming the Department.  This will include the use of our Web Site Services (information, employee surveys, workforce composition reports and updates, etc), management tutorials, management and employee training forums, and active and consistent Executive Leadership to provide direction and support to the units that are designated to plan, manage, guide, coordinate and facilitate this transformation.

7. Does DHMH offer persity training to new and/or current employees?

Yes, through our Training Services pision (H/R)

8.  Are workforce persity, equal employment opportunity, managing persity, and affirmative action the same concept?

In a word, “NO”!

While these concepts are related (like intergenerational family relations), there are important differences in terms of their history, purpose, focus, and implications. These concepts should be seen and understood as separate points along a continuum intended not only to insure equity in the employment arena, but to also facilitate the inclusion of people from different backgrounds and experiences in the effective realization of an organization’s mission and goals. For instance, each of these concepts has implications for the composition of and practiced behaviors in the workforce. In addition, each concept is intended to address decisions that are made regarding an organization’s recruitment, selection, retention, promotion, termination, hiring, and compensation policies and practices. [Note: for additional information see ‘Definitions’ tab on the D&I web page].

9. How real and substantive is DHMH’s commitment to workforce persity and Inclusion?

As an organization and state agency, DHMH is committed to the goals and of creating a   workforce that better reflects the demographic characteristics of the populations that it serves and, as a result, is more effective in meeting the needs of those populations. We are in the initial stages of transforming our organization. This transformation will include changes not only in the demographics of the workforce, but more importantly, changes in the values, behaviors, priorities, and work environment of our agency.

The transformation will touch all aspects of DHMH - the composition of our workforce, our attitudes, work relationships, levels of understanding and appreciation for individual differences that contribute to better services and products, our sense of pride in the work that we do and the manner in which we accomplish our work on a daily basis, and our expectations of our selves and each other. It will affect all layers, units, facilities, and departments. It will involve and necessitate the commitment of leaders and managers throughout the organization working collaboratively with each other as well as with their respective staff.  Under the direction and support of the Secretary, OD&I in collaboration with OHR and TSD, will help guide and facilitate this journey. The results of this transformation will, ultimately, be of benefit to all of our stakeholders- including our employees.

The DHMH commitment is a commitment of leadership, accountability, resources (including time, attention, personnel, technology, and personal integrity), and results.

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