Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

At the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, we see you, we hear you and we believe in you. As a trusted behavioral healthcare provider, a national voice for recovery, and a people-powered workplace, we are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in all of our endeavors.
Happy diverse people together in the park

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in All We Do

Addiction is an equal opportunity disease. It reaches across age, race, gender and socioeconomic status. Ensuring access to treatment, opportunities to heal and recovery support should be common ground as well. Unfortunately, you don’t need to look very far or wide to find examples throughout history of how America and our healthcare industry have neglected and marginalized people who struggle with substance use disorders.

When the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation pioneered humane, respectful care for this stigmatized population more than 70 years ago, we did so amid a lack of public compassion for, knowledge of, or patience for "alcoholics" and "addicts." Alcoholism and drug addiction were not widely viewed as disease conditions.

In recognizing addiction for what it is—a disease—and treating our patients with holistic, expert and compassionate care, it’s true that Hazelden Betty Ford has been a voice for underserved, marginalized people from our very first days.

And yet, our perspective and cultural frame of reference have limited Hazelden Betty Ford’s reach in terms of serving the total population affected by addiction. We recognize that we have many bridges to build if our organization is to live up to our long-term commitment of honoring, serving and advocating for people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. We can do better, and we aspire to do better. Hazelden Betty Ford’s commitment to empowering recovery and well-being for all is built on:

  • Ensuring a diverse workforce

  • Fostering a culture that is inclusive

  • Having a strong presence in diverse communities

  • Providing culturally responsive care

  • To this end, Hazelden Betty Ford is strategically and actively engaged in assessing and evolving our procedures and decision-making processes as well as our allocation of resources.

Why are diversity, equity and inclusion important factors in addiction treatment?

Racial issues have always been present in America's drug- and addiction-related attitudes, policies and responses. From anti-opioid campaigns that targeted Chinese immigrants in the late 19th Century, to the modern War on Drugs that has disproportionately harmed people of color, to the current opioid epidemic that seems to elicit more compassion than previous drug crises because it affects white kids in the suburbs, to the still-gaping racial disparities in access to addiction care—it is clear that diversity, equity and inclusion are mission-critical for any organization seeking to reduce the negative impact of addiction.

Addiction is a public health issue so big, so prevalent and so devastating that it requires proactive, long-term collaboration among all who are committed to confronting it.

Are diversity, equity and inclusion really the same thing?

The terms are interrelated but distinct. Hazelden Betty Ford’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee has established the following organizational definitions to help guide our efforts.

  • Diversity embraces our individual differences across all facets of life and lived experience.

  • Equity establishes and ensures accountability to policies and practices that give access, opportunity and advancement, while striving to identify and eliminate systemic barriers that prevent the full participation of individuals and communities that have been marginalized and underrepresented.

  • Inclusion intentionally fosters an environment so any individual or group is and feels welcomed, respected, supported and valued.

What kinds of efforts can actually create real, long-term change in addiction treatment?

At the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, we’re focusing on the following efforts and goals to create meaningful and lasting change:

Inclusive Culture
  • Build a culturally competent organization

  • Develop an infrastructure that creates and reinforces an inclusive culture

  • Ensure fair and equitable treatment of everyone

Diverse Workforce
  • Increase the diversity of our workforce at all levels

  • Recruit and retain employees from underrepresented populations

Patients, Families and Students
  • Increase the diverse customer, patient, family and student populations that we reach and serve

  • Increase staff and student clinical cultural responsiveness

  • Improve and broaden access to underrepresented communities

  • Establish and consistently utilize a framework for employees to provide feedback on community outreach efforts and impact

  • Drive acquisition and partnership with other health care organizations focused on improving access to quality care and resources for marginalized and underrepresented individuals and communities

Learn more

If you have questions about diversity, equity and inclusion at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, please reach out to us at DEI@HazeldenBettyFord.org.

Meet Our Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Andrew Williams (he, they)

Williams drives cultural and behavior change across the organization to increase diversity, advance equity and foster inclusion. Serving as a strategic partner with others throughout Hazelden Betty Ford, he champions DEI awareness, understanding, allyship and advocacy as well as the advancement of underrepresented groups. He aims to inspire others through example, challenge colleagues to live up to institutional values and legal obligations, and engage in creative and meaningful intercultural experiences.

Andrew Williams