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As we hear more about COVID-19 becoming endemic, we’re also seeing more articles and conversations about lessons learned over the past few years. One of those conversations is about health equity. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) define health equity as the state in which “every person has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health”.
There’s a great article in the Harvard Business Review titled “Employers Can Do More to Advance Health Equity”. If you’re interested in learning more about health equity, I’d suggest checking it out. The article included data about the groups of people who are marginalized by society and the health care system. Those groups include individuals who are Black, Latino, Native American, LGBTQ+, live in rural communities, live in poverty, and have a disability.
One of the other things I found insightful about the HBR article was the conversation about who is responsible for health equity – government or business? They kinda introduced it as an either / or discussion and I’m not sure the answer will be that simple. I believe the answers will include a certain level of public / private partnership.
In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation recently announced the Health Equity in the Workplace initiative, which is a collaboration with the American Heart Association and the Deloitte Health Equity Institute. It will be interesting to see the SHRM Foundation findings.
As human resources professionals, we’re regularly involved in discussions about employee benefits, which means we regularly talk about employee health and wellbeing. At some point, health equity is going to come up. We should be prepared for it, which is why I wanted to mention it today.
I don’t know that anyone has all the answers. Health equity is a complex topic and involves many other factors. For example, some of the reasons that we’re not seeing progress with health equity involve other inequities like to education, employment, food, social relationships, etc. But first things first. It’s time for organizations to realize that pay equity isn’t the only equity we need to be addressing.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring Duval Street in Key West, FL36