And he's starting and self-funding the Institute for InterGroup Understanding, to work on resolving the roots of intergroup ethnic conflict and racial bias in our communities and improve diversity within the workplace, global corporations, and their C-suite leaders. He sees increasing divisiveness—illustrated this year by the national animosity between those on either side of the Trayvon Martin incident—with "the kind of energy building in various places that have the potential to go to a very bad place."
Halvorson says that at Kaiser Permanente, he created a workforce that is 59% minority that managed to lead the way in healthcare. "No other major health plan in America has the staff and team anywhere near as heavily minority as ours, and we've turned that status into synergy rather than division," proving, he says, "that you can bring people together by creating common sets of values, agendas, and identity. The country needs to learn how to do that."
He's also doing more coaching for administrators, especially those who are women and minorities, on how they command authority in senior leadership positions so they are less likely to be sabotaged and fail to meet goals.
These pursuits, to which he's long wanted to devote more time, prompted him to make his decision.
"I told the board that what I've been doing in healthcare, and for the past 30 years, has been a warm-up for what I need to do next."