James Balda headshot
Argentum President and CEO James Balda

Argentum pledged Thursday to create and implement diversity and inclusion programs in its organization, joining a CEO-led initiative that includes other senior living providers and associated companies as well as leaders in other business sectors.

President and CEO James Balda announced that he had signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion commitment, committing Argentum to “cultivating a workplace where diverse perspectives and experiences are welcomed and respected, and where employees feel encouraged to discuss diversity and inclusion.”

“The engagement with CEO Action recognizes that responsibility for a workplace of diversity, equity and inclusion starts here,” Balda said. “It serves as an important component in our ongoing and organization-wide diversity effort, which are essential to our mission to promote choice, dignity, independence and quality of life for seniors.”

To date, almost 2,000 CEOs representing more than 85 industries and approximately 13 million employees have signed onto the commitment. 

Among the other senior living-related companies that are participating are senior living providers Erickson Senior Living; Hackensack Meridian Health, a system that includes assisted living communities; Lasell Village life plan community in Auburndale, MA; ProMedica, parent company of ProMedica Senior Care, formerly HCR ManorCare and Arden Courts memory care; real estate investment trust Ventas, senior living operator Vi; Volunteers of America, parent of Volunteers of America Senior Living; and REIT Welltower. 

Some of the other participating organizations with connections to the industry include CVS Health, parent of long-term care pharmacy Omnicare; commercial real estate firms CBRE and JLL Americas; and construction management firm Ryan Companies. 

CEO Action provides examples from participating companies of actions showcasing real-life conversations that can cultivate a more diverse and inclusive workplace environment. Participants can learn from and share examples to try to drive greater engagement in programming.

“At Argentum, we’ve come together as a team to build and support our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiative, which provides our staff a dedicated forum to have meaningful conversations and share experiences on civil rights, racial and environmental discrimination, poverty and homelessness, and beyond,” Balda said. “Our goal is to encourage openness and to allow our staff to discuss social issues that are important to them.”

Argentum also has implemented a Diverse Leadership action, forming a coalition to work with a consultant to develop a long-term plan to provide guidance, support and encouragement to organizations seeking to create diverse, equal and inclusive companies and communities. The effort will address the challenge of recruiting and retaining minority representation in executive-level positions.

“The senior living industry is proud to have a diverse workforce — nearly 40% identify as people of color. To better reflect who we are as an industry, we need to see similar representation among our leadership and executive positions as well,” Balda said. “We need to take positive steps to build opportunity, equity and inclusion for people of color, and provide strategies and resources to recruit and retain minorities in executive level positions.”

Among CEOs signing the pledge, Vi President Randy Richardson is a vice chairman of the Argentum board, and Ventas CEO Debra Cafaro and Welltower CEO Shankh Mitra are members of the Argentum Executive Advisory Board.

A 2021 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Forum session Wednesday on “Finding success in increasing diversity and inclusion” provided a first-hand look at approaches to diversity and inclusion taken by senior living and skilled nursing companies. The leaders of Brookdale Senior Living, A.G. Rhodes Health, Eclipse Senior Living and Christian Living Communities discussed the benefits and challenges they experienced along the way in implementing programs.

To listen to the session on-demand for free, register here. Read an article about the session here.

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