Devastating and deadly events over the last two years – a pandemic that disproportionately impacted communities of color and long overdue awareness of social injustice and systemic racism – fueled our work and accelerated action. To create meaningful, sustainable change, we supported our team members to digest current events, share lived experiences, listen with an open mindset and adopt inclusive behaviors. We worked to engage team members and customers in a safe space to allow them to share their experiences and learn from one another. And we leaned into conversations about the impact of COVID-19, racism and inequality and the impact on our team members both personally and professionally through a range of “Brave Conversations” and “Moments to Connect.”
United, our company sought ways to use its purpose, reach and positioning as a healthcare provider to educate its workforce on the healthcare disparities facing Black and Brown communities and identify ways to drive positive change. 2020-2021 was a critical period of listening, learning and acting.
Everyday Champions Driving Real Change
Our WBA business resource groups (BRGs) and field chapters help team members to develop programs that drive inclusion, education and engagement. Formed and led by team members who volunteer their time, BRGs enable participants to learn and collaborate and help connect WBA more closely to the multicultural and multifaceted communities we serve. BRGs help advance a culture of inclusion at WBA while supporting and aligning with business priorities.
An essential element of our WBA community, our BRG leaders and members provide opportunities for their peers to share ideas and experiences while broadening their networks and perspectives and building a true sense of community. In 2020, for example, our BRGs spoke up and stood up to help break down barriers and unify one another in response to the racial equity movement. In an open letter signed by all global BRG Chairs following the murder of George Floyd, these team members condemned racism and committed their support as allies with their Black team members and the Black community as a whole. They encouraged everyone to “be willing to listen, take time to learn, and, finally, take action by making a genuine effort to better support and contribute to the movement.”
Moving beyond words, our BRGs quickly and thoughtfully took action, sponsoring a wide range of programs and forums in which leaders and team members could share and listen to the experiences, views and feelings of their peers and customers. They provided safe spaces to learn about and openly engage in the social justice movement and enable change.
“Recognize that this is a journey. The reason that we refer to it as the racial equity movement is because we are still on our way. The goal is to keep moving forward toward equality, and whether you are on Day 1 of your journey or you have been fighting the fight for a long time, we are walking alongside our Black colleagues toward a better, brighter, more equal future.”
- WBA Business Resource Group leaders
in an open letter to WBA team members
Creating a Safe Place to Listen and Learn
Words are powerful and they can quickly shift how people perceive and react to any situation. With this awareness, our Pride Alliance BRGs hosted a session to help team members understand the language used to define the gender and sexuality identities in the LGBTQ+ community. As the speaker said, “We are all allies to someone.”
Our Latino Professionals BRG sponsored an educational program about “Immigration at the Border,” providing a firsthand view of the experiences of individuals attempting to immigrate to the U.S. for asylum.
To create understanding about the phrase "white privilege" and enable team members to talk about it and take action, our InclusivIT BRG sponsored a panel discussion. During the session, Demystifying DE&I, participants learned about the definition and meaning of this expression and what they can do to level the playing field.
Our AsianConnect BRG sponsored a panel discussion to raise awareness about the disturbing trend of increasing violence against Asian communities and ways to extend allyship to our Asian team members and friends. AsianConnect BRG Executive Sponsor Rina Shah led the discussion with Carlos Cubia, senior vice president and global chief diversity officer, and several other leaders from across WBA.
Empowering One Another
Working across their chapters, the Women of WBA BRG held seven-week, self-guided Learning Journeys. Each journey covers a career-defining hurdle, such as developing your personal brand, building your confidence and improving your negotiation skills. Women of WBA-US also partnered with the Next Gen Empowerment BRG to expand on the existing mentoring circles in the U.S.
“Whether you need help navigating your new normal at work or are looking for support from women who understand what you’re going through, your Circle will give you the boost we all need.”
- Lean In Circles
Myth Busting: The Facts about COVID-19 Vaccinations
In the UK, our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic BRG hosted a discussion about COVID-19 and vaccination myths. During the discussion, Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist, Boots UK, shared an update about COVID-19 and debunked myths about the vaccination.
Moving Out of the Fear Zone and into the Learning Zone
Listening to One Another
With a conscious bias for action and a recognition that fear of saying the wrong thing can lead to inaction, the leadership team for the No7 Beauty Company and WBA Global Sourcing established a new Racial Equity Movement team with diverse cross-functional representation. The group outlined a manifesto to “actively create an anti-racist culture reflected in our people, our ways of working and our brands,” and brought it to life with the company’s first DE&I Summits in January and May 2021. The team curated and hosted 22 inspiring events across two weeks with over 870 unique attendees, 4142 event visits and an open rate of 65 percent for the daily related spotlight newsletter.
“It is not enough to sit back and let others make the change, you have to be part of it – educate yourself, be an ally for others and continue to learn (even if it is learning from mistakes).”
- DE&I Summit participant
Speaking Boldly, Taking a Stand
Expanding Awareness, Continually Learning
The American Indian and Alaska Native people have long experienced lower health status when compared with other Americans. Lower life expectancy and the disproportionate disease burden exist perhaps because of inadequate education, disproportionate poverty, discrimination in the delivery of health services, and cultural differences.
From Unconscious Bias to Conscious Inclusion
As a follow up to this, we developed a Global Inclusion in Action series and have already started to deploy the leader workshop to our senior leaders internationally. The module supports brave conversations and facilitates a learning journey of empathy, allyship and championship, covering key topics such as the importance of equity and privilege awareness. The team member modules are being developed and will be rolled out in fiscal 2022.