Interview With Bernard Tyson, Next CEO of Kaiser Permanente

Bernard J. Tyson will be the next Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. The board of directors of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan announced that Tyson will succeed George Halvorson, who is retiring next year.

Tyson, the current President and Chief Operating Officer, was interviewed by DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti the day he was named to the position. To hear audio of the interview, click on the audio players below. Tyson also spoke at our diversity event, emphasizing the organization’s emphasis on cultural competency and an inclusive workplace.

Cultural competence in healthcare is a hallmark of both Kaiser Permanente and Tyson’s personal priorities. “Our mission is to continue to become better educated and increase our competency in understanding the nuances of how we care for a diverse population,” he told DiversityInc. “The Institute for Culturally Competent Care is a training ground. It’s a metaphor for where the brain trust is to help the rest of the organization better understand how to care for diverse populations.”

In addressing corporate leaders who are selecting a health-insurance provider, he noted that the commitment to diversity is critical. “Your employees will see themselves in the walls of Kaiser Permanente. We are a diverse organization, taking care of diverse people,” he said.

Where Are All the Black CEOs

Kaiser Permanente, No. 3 on The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list, is not in the Fortune 500 since it is a nonprofit. However, the naming of a Black person to lead this major organization is a significant step. Currently, only 1.2 percent of Fortune 500 companies have Black CEOs, compared with 4 percent of the DiversityInc Top 50.

Kaiser Permanente’s Next CEO: Why Healthcare Reform, Cultural Competence Are Financial Decisions

Tyson noted Halvorson’s legacy of creating the most diverse top of the organization in the DiversityInc Top 50. “My job is to build on that and leverage the great strength of the diversity as we continue to deal with very complex problems in this country and the healthcare system,” he said.

Tyson is chairman of the board of directors of The Executive Leadership Council, which works to improve Black representation in senior levels across Fortune 500 and equivalent organizations. He emphasized the need for diversity from all underrepresented groups at the tops of organizations. He also is on the board of the American Heart Association.

Increasing Engagement and Motivation

Tyson discussed his long career at Kaiser, saying: “I’ve been afforded over the 28 years wonderful experiences in multiple roles. At the end of the day, what has kept me here is that I believe in the mission, in high-quality affordable care.”

He added: “It’s all about creating an environment where the people bring their best thinking forward and are respected and recognized for that. The benefit is to have a highly motivated staff coming to work every day, taking care of our 9 million plus members.”

New CEO: Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation, Affordability Delivers Economic Advantage

The decision to name Tyson came after an exhaustive search. “The full board of directors underwent an extensive internal and external search process, meeting regularly to consider a number of highly qualified candidates, to identify the next leader of Kaiser Permanente,” said Kim Kaiser, board member and chairman of the search committee. “The board’s decision to offer this position to Mr. Tyson is a testament to Kaiser Permanente’s robust internal succession-planning process. During Mr. Tyson’s 28 years at Kaiser Permanente, he has demonstrated excellent leadership and vision for this organization, uniquely qualifying him to serve as our next chairman and CEO.”

Kaiser Permanente’s succession planning will be featured in our diversity web seminar on succession planning, which will include best practices from IBM and CVS Caremark as well, on Dec. 4.

“The board made an excellent choice,” said Halvorson.

“Bernard has done an extremely good job as President and COO of Kaiser Permanente, and I am confident he will continue to perform at the same level as Chairman and CEO.”

Tyson has been President and COO for almost two years. Previously, he was Executive Vice President of Health Plan and Hospital Operations for Kaiser as well as Senior Vice President and COO for the organization’s regions outside of California.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Management and an MBA in Health Care Administration and Management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He also earned an advanced leadership certificate from Harvard University.

Latest News

Hilton #3 on Best Places to Work List

Originally posted on Hilton  LinkedIn and Laura Fuentes (EVP & CHRO at Hilton) Today we are honored to be named #3 on the list of #WorldsBestWorkplaces by Fortune and Great Place to Work US. This recognition is an important reminder of the incredible power of our Hilton community, especially in these uniquely challenging times. As I step into…

Students Again Rank Abbott’s College Internship Program No. 1 in Healthcare Industry

Originally published on This summer, we were challenged to deliver a virtual summer internship program for our U.S. college interns that would enrich their professional experience while keeping them and our employees safe. Technology became the primary solution to our training, career development, and leadership interactions. Going beyond conference…

Cox Business and Henderson, Nevada Launch Energy Efficient Smart Lighting Project

Originally published on Cox2M IoT Business Line of Cox Communications will Pilot New Lighting Controls The City of Henderson and Cox Communications have successfully deployed the first stage of their smart community collaboration, starting with energy efficient lighting management and controls. Cox2M, the IoT business line of Cox Communications, and the…

Diverse hads unite

More Work Needed For Corporate Diversity Programs; Fourteen Disability Groups Unite to Promote Voting; and More

Corporate diversity efforts still have a long way to go, new report finds. In a report conducted by the research firm Clutch, nearly half of employees surveyed said their company isn’t committed to creating a more diverse workplace and hasn’t successfully improved diversity within the last year. Researchers with Clutch…

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco Declares War on Racism; People 55 and Older Face Historic Levels of Unemployment; and More.

San Francisco begins a citywide war on racism and discrimination. Known as the birthplace of the “Summer of Love” and the counterculture movement of the 1960s, San Francisco has long stood as a bastion of individuality and inclusion. And now the city is continuing that fight with the launch of…

portrait of Abraham Lincoln

Was Abraham Lincoln a Racist?

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s mention of Abraham Lincoln’s name during the third presidential debate on Thursday, Oct. 22, was one of the most memorable exchanges in the final presidential debate of 2020. It also caused Lincoln to become a trending topic over much of social media in the hours…