Paula A. Gutierrez, MHA, is Director, Diversity & Inclusion and Babs Siperstein PROUD Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, New Jersey, an RWJBarnabas Health facility. She began the organization’s D&I journey by bringing awareness to people on the business imperative. This galvanized more individuals to get involved in advancing diversity efforts. The new awareness meant organizational members came to understand that diversity and inclusion is not about excluding certain people from the table, but rather having all people represented to build better teams and programs for diverse communities. Gutierrez strives to help them appreciate that diversity is the responsibility of everyone and not just the D&I lead.
Gutierrez’s biggest inspiration comes from her mother and the women before her. As a Hispanic woman, Gutierrez says, “Growing up there were not many role models that looked like me so I strive to forge a path for other underrepresented women to succeed.” She is proud to serve as an inspiration for women as well as young professionals so they, too, can be leaders regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race and so on. Gutierrez has the strong support of senior-level executives and board leadership, something she says is essential to make the most impact.