By Jacquelyn Kung

Racism is a hot topic in the news and politics these days. Senior living leaders shouldn’t turn a blind eye to this news. Our industry may be incredibly racist as well. And it’s manifesting in the most counterproductive way possible.

Let me explain.

Many senior living organizations require a college degree to be a director or an executive director. Who has more access to finishing a college education? Or let’s ask ourselves the reverse: who does NOT have access? (Hint: picture the many colors of people.)

Here’s how it hurts us as an industry: We have a huge shortage of talent and a huge shortage of great leaders.

Yet, we have many hungry associates in our midst who may not have had the opportunities we ourselves have had and who, when given the chance, often make for amazing leaders.

When I’ve asked executives in our industry why they have that rule of needing a college degree to be an executive director, I don’t get good answers; like being able to think clearly and make good decisions. Doesn’t that come with life skills and observing what’s worked and what hasn’t? Or like, being able to communicate with staff, family members, and residents. Doesn’t that come with empathy and people skills and perhaps some high school, not a college degree?

I’m definitely one who can’t stand dumb people (those of you who know me know that). But I also know that having a college degree doesn’t make someone smart.

We’ve been living this notion on my own team. Several members of our team do not have college degrees. And they are among our most talented and hungry performers and leaders.

Just as the assisted living of today is the nursing home of two decades ago, colleges are the high schools of yesteryear.

Let’s not make college degrees mandatory to being an executive director.

Do you agree – or disagree? Please leave your thoughts below.