The collaborative nature between the University of Louisville and Louisville-based senior living and care provider Trilogy Health Services isn’t new.
All of the company’s 110-plus senior living communities participate in UofL Trager Institute’s network training hub, for example. Our School of Nursing houses a state-of-the-art simulation lab, upgraded just last year thanks to Trilogy’s $250,000 commitment.
And it just so happens that Trilogy’s founder, Randall J. Bufford, is one of our most prominent alums. In 2016, he was named the alumni award winner for the College of Business and just last month earned our inaugural Alumni Ambassador Award. The 1981 graduate was a part of UofL’s 1980 national championship men’s basketball team. He has since been recognized for his leadership in his profession and community, as Trilogy employs over 10,000 people and is considered to be one of the best senior housing companies in the world.
It’s no wonder, then, that Trilogy would tap into UofL’s expertise to transform its organization to emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion. The company’s DEI plan was developed earlier this year with the help of UofL researchers from the College of Education and Human Development, Geneva Stark, Jeffrey Sun, Heather Turner.
UofL’s researchers worked alongside Todd Schmiedeler, Trilogy’s chief engagement and innovation officer, and Priscila Mattingly, Trilogy’s chief human resources and inclusion officer. The team worked for a year collecting several iterations of data and spoke to every level of employee to capture the company’s strengths and improve both employee and resident outcomes.
“Trilogy Health Services has an impressive leadership team and has been dubbed one of the nation’s best workplaces for aging services. They care about their employees who are truly integrated as community members of the organization. They sought to expand their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and building off our existing relationship (which is based on trust and genuine interest in each other’s success), we also engaged with them on rethinking their practices, policies and priorities to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion actively and visibly became a critical component of their organizational culture and values,” Sun said.
“In fact, they revised their whole Environmental, Social & Governance structure so diversity, equity, and inclusion were not simply words or temporal concerns, but a lived experience where employees felt a sense of belonging and are hopefully having rich and valuable encounters across the company, even with their vendors and partners. It’s likely no organization has reached these aspirations, but Trilogy Health Services is trying, and we are honored to be partners with such a caring and focused company,” he added.
Together, the UofL and Trilogy team identified four key areas to advance Trilogy’s DEI efforts: Accountability, recruitment, retention and development, and culture.
Accountability: The DEI plan tasks Trilogy’s leaders to develop unit-specific and measurable annual diversity goals. The goals are also to be monitored quarterly, so leaders can assess progress and readjust if necessary. Leaders are also tasked with holding regular campus town halls to ensure all employees have a voice in enacting these changes.
Further, Trilogy is conducting an audit of its suppliers to ensure their values are consistent with Trilogy’s, and the organization will revise supplier contracts to include this consideration.
Recruitment: Trilogy will analyze job postings for content and placement to identify language or phrasing that may deter applicants. The company is also strengthening partnerships with organizations – such as universities and nonprofits – to help facilitate a recruitment pipeline. Finally, the company plans to establish a business resource group for networking – all with an objective of increasing the diversity of its applicant pools.
Retention and development: Trilogy is creating individualized employee growth plans to provide employees with steps for advancement into leadership roles. The plans are paired with advancement and mentorship programs that include training, resources and mentoring.
Culture: Trilogy aims to break down siloes by creating employee resource groups (ERGs) to focus on connecting people with similar interests across campuses and creating a stronger sense of belonging with the company.
This plan has been published in McKnight’s Senior Living and will be presented next week at the 2021 annual conference of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. This isn’t likely the last of the UofL/Trilogy partnership, however.
“In the College of Education and Human Development, our commitment is to our community, and since 2019, we have been working with Trilogy to build and enhance its workforce through innovative learning designs such as apprenticeships and workforce diversity,” Sun said. “Under the leadership of (CEHD) Dean Amy Lingo, we plan to continue expanding our private/public partnerships to learn from each other and increase community engagement.”
Natalie Hewlett, CEHD’s coordinator for development and communications, contributed to this story.