Diversity in dentistry is a massive asset and a focal point for establishing a strong dental work culture. Building a functional work environment requires strong collaboration and buy-in to facilitate ideas and encourage the kind of employee engagement that leads to significant productivity boosts. Strong leadership and camaraderie help formulate an applaudable dental work culture. Yet, introducing people from diverse backgrounds helps creativity flourish and leads to more interesting information exchanges that yield positive outcomes for dental practices. 

Having more diverse dental offices ensures that clients have more people to relate to during visits, helps assure client trust and improves collaboration within offices. Here’s why dental leaders and HR teams must prioritize diversity among dental temps and why it directly correlates with the evolution of a dental practice’s work culture. 

Why Is Diversity Important to the Dental Office Work Culture? 

The demographics in the dental hygienists sector show that there are over 226,400 registered dental hygienists in the United States, of whom approximately 95% are female. Almost 79% of the dental hygienists are White, and around 21% represent minorities, with 6% being Asian, less than 5% being Black, and less than 2% being Hispanic. Representation in the industry can be traced to the representation of different groups in dental schools, with the share of underrepresented groups still relatively low. 

Diversity matters considerably in the dental hygienists sector as it creates greater access to care for underrepresented groups and ensures cultural competence so patients can talk to someone who best relates to them. Just as importantly for dental leaders, improved diversity boosts the dental office work culture, creating a highly-engaged environment where team members are eager to collaborate and supportive of each other’s efforts. More effective collaboration and a supportive nature facilitate more productive work and create more harmony among dental teams. 

Diversity Among Dental Hygienists Facilitates New Perspectives

Diversity ensures more innovation and inspiration, which ensures dental teams get the most out of their collective skill sets. 

Having a variety of backgrounds provides refreshing solutions that keep dental hygienists engaged and willing to contribute ideas consistently. Diversity eliminates standard and mundane problem-solving methods within dental teams, allowing them to think broadly and develop mindsets that embrace change. 

Creativity triggered by increased workplace diversity within dental practices also leads to optimized marketing strategies. Dental teams can come up with marketing initiatives that attract the kind of diverse patient base they seek while also attracting different groups of people to come and join their teams. 

Statistics show that diversity among dental hygienists improves workplace innovation nearly twice as much as companies that don’t prioritize diversity. Promoting diversity within a dental office work culture increases the office’s reputation, leading to dental employees telling others about their workplace and potentially attracting new candidates. Such word-of-mouth marketing is needed as dental offices face staff shortages accelerated by the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Increased Diversity is a Proven Driver of Workplace Productivity 

Diversity is a proven asset to productivity, and dental hygienists seeking career advancement opportunities will want to work at diverse offices where they can acquire a wealth of knowledge/skills. Most people voice the importance of professional growth opportunities when seeking work. A work culture fueled by diversity provides an environment for dental hygienists to accelerate their career progression while gaining new perspectives on the dental industry. 

Dental candidates tend to shy away from job openings at practices that don’t stress diversity. People want to work alongside people who can relate to them culturally, not just professionally. Without diversity at the core of your work culture, you may be overlooking quality to your detriment and could simultaneously be costing yourself a strong client base. The more open-minded dental leaders are during recruitment and the more they create positive environments so new dental hygienists flourish, the better the output will be for dental practices. 

Diversity in the dental office leads to stronger networking opportunities, exposing dental hygienists to new work approaches and skills, making them more agile, inventive employees. The networking and enhanced skill sets can lead to better opportunities for dental hygienists. Dental leaders can leverage job mobility and strong work culture to create internal opportunities for high-performing staff, helping them to accelerate their career development objectives. 

Dental leaders should do all they can to promote diversity by optimizing their respective work cultures through positive reinforcement and by providing realistic opportunities for dental temps and permanent employees. Though the diversity issue requires addressing issues within dental schools and through enhanced policies, dental leaders should take the initiative by expanding their recruitment policies/strategies to attract the wide-ranging candidate pool they look for when trying to fill positions efficiently. 

Going forward, dental leaders should make diversity a major aspect of creating a work culture that’s conducive to success. Amid questions surrounding dental staffing and the need for sounder retention strategies, prioritizing diversity among dental hygienists is the way to go.

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