Business leaders unveil strategic roadmap to improve health equity in workplace

American Heart Association

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, today announced a new report that provides employers with a roadmap for creating an environment that supports and encourages equitable health and well-being. Driving Health Equity in the Workplace includes a roadmap and related tools to help employees identify and address institutional practices, including structural racism, that contribute to discrimination and health inequities.

The report, developed by a writing group comprised of business leaders, scientific and academic experts, was commissioned by the Association’s CEO Roundtable. Led by co-chairmen Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, and Brian Moynihan, Chairman and CEO of Bank of America, the CEO Roundtable is a leadership collaborative of nearly 50 CEOs who are dedicated to sharing and implementing evidence-based approaches to improve workplace health.

“As champions of health equity, the American Heart Association is committed to advancing cardiovascular health for all, which includes identifying and eliminating barriers to good health. The workplace is a significant platform to meet people where they are and influence positive and lasting change for employees everywhere,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “In collaboration with our CEO Roundtable, I am incredibly proud to deliver this resource and roadmap to employers.”

Included in the report are results from a national employee survey on workplace equity which revealed a noticeable disconnect between white respondents and Black, Asian, Hispanic and American Indian and Alaska Native respondents in perceptions.

The survey of 1,203 employed U.S. adults, fielded in May 2021, suggests opportunities for employers to review and improve organizational practices, promote allyship and increase their understanding of the health and social challenges faced by employees.

For example, 66% of respondents identified as people of color said that practices and policies at work negatively impact health and well-being “a great deal or moderately.” Among white respondents, 38% felt that was the case. While chronic stress ranked high among all employees, the source of that stress comes from very different lived experiences, the survey found.

The report’s guiding principles illustrate important values that can positively influence employee perception and contribute to better health and well-being. These principles are:

  1. Practice intentional inclusion at all levels of the organization, including but not limited to shared decision-making, ensuring participation and listening to perspectives of individuals from historically excluded populations.
  2. Adopt policies, practices and programs that address the historical legacies of structural inequities and how current systems, practices and norms may perpetuate inequity. Explore and acknowledge the organization’s role in these histories and systems.
  3. Eliminate structural racism and bias to promote health equity and improve employee health and well-being.
  4. Commit to practicing allyship, modeled and supported by leadership, to promote health equity.
  5. Adopt a common language guide promoting dignity and culturally sensitive use of language.
  6. Create a plan for assessing the impact of organizational change on health equity.
  7. Be accountable for having a true impact on advancing health equity. Intent is not enough.

To access the report and related resources, visit www.heart.org/DrivingHealthEquity.

About the American Heart Association

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