Creating a diverse and inclusive environment is a pillar of Augusta University — and the Dental College of Georgia is no exception. The college’s strategic plan focuses on outreach and recruitment efforts to add more underrepresented minority students, faculty and staff to the DCG.
Michael Budd, who’s been with DCG for 25 years and serves as clinic support manager, has recently been honored with the Staff Diversity Award for success in changing the makeup of the staff pool in the business office and in clinical support.
Budd was humbled and surprised by the honor and deflects the attention, since he said it happened naturally.
“I hadn’t been fully conscious of trying to achieve a specific goal,” said Budd. “In turnover and hiring personnel, I’ve always been thinking about the talent, not the surface. I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had good talent that I’ve been able to acquire that reflects racial populations, gender, possibly sexual orientation. To my feeling, it’s sort of happened organically.”
About five years ago, Darrell Gentry, associate dean of business and finance in DCG, noticed few men or people of color worked in the business office or as clinical support personnel within the various DCG clinics. Gentry asked Budd to work on changing that.
“I asked him to try to develop a more diverse department area. I didn’t give them any instructions or any guidelines or timeframe or anything like that. It just happened after that,” said Gentry.
Another goal was to improve customer service.
“It’s also been a focus on us trying to recruit people who have that customer service personality as well,” added Gentry. “It was a combination. I tried to give them the analogy of working for Chick-fil-A: ‘It’s our pleasure.’”
Today, these departments represent greater racial and ethnic diversity, and more men have been hired into these positions than ever before.
Budd knows the importance of having a diverse office where patients are comfortable to come when having dental work done.
“It’s almost like a tapestry. Imagine a tapestry all made of beige thread — it’s not very inviting or something worth looking at. But the whole aspect of diversity is having all sorts of colors of thread intertwined and you have a much more vibrant tapestry. The same way I think you have a much more vibrant staff,” added Budd.
Budd also said there is a better relationship between the customers and the staff because of the diverse makeup of the office.
“There’s an ability to relate and certainly that’s an important factor, especially when it’s dental or medical. When you have a front office that’s having to interact with the public, I think it’s important for people to see there is someone like me.”
Gentry and Robin Reyes, director of DCG business operations, nominated Budd for the award. They recognize the work Budd has done to make the office all-inclusive.
“Employees now have varied experiences and viewpoints, which creates a larger pool of ideas for strategies for problem solving,” said both Gentry and Reyes in their nomination of Budd. “Employees now have diverse skill set, which helps serve our patients better. Our employees now look more like the customers we serve at the DCG, which is a valuable asset.”
Budd said he’s also fortunate to have people like Gentry and his director, Bill Bowers, who give the proper guidance and provide the environment of acceptance.
“They make it worth the work and they helped make the environment a positive one to be able to have these wonderful goals met,” said Budd.