Black Corporate Directors Link ESG, Health Equity
A new publication from the Black Directors Health Equity Agenda is a playbook to lead environmental, social and governance action in organizations committed to health and wellness.
“Health Equity’s Essential Role in ESG Conversations,” available to BDHEA members, provides a framework developed in collaboration with Deloitte for board directors to assess their organizations’ health ecosystem footprint.
“As Black corporate directors and executives, we need to be fully informed by our community’s health disparities,” said BDHEA Founding Member and Board Member Joe Wilkins. “We must be intentional to demand transformation that embraces health equity that is critical to achieving our financial, operational and strategic goals.”
The BDHEA was among the first 39 signatories to the Zero Health Gaps Pledge at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos, Switzerland. The pledge commits organizations to embed health equity in core strategies, operations and investments.
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Health Equity at Heart of Risk Management Plan
The playbook shows how each pillar of ESG influences health equity:
- Environment is a force multiplier of health disparities. Pollution in Black communities exacerbates cardiovascular issues and exposes residents to greater risk in conditions as disparate as asthma, stroke and breast cancer.
- Social needs have knock-on community health effects. Economic, housing and food insecurity contributes to widespread chronic physical and mental health conditions.
- Governance advances health equity when leaders systematically address the drivers of health to meet business objectives.
“Board directors have many incentives to view ESG through a health equity lens,” said Deloitte & Touche LLP Partner Kim Griffin-Hunter. “Organizations that address their industry’s sustainability issues can create stronger brands, attract dedicated talent, mitigate risk and achieve robust financial performance.”
Black Corporate Directors Lead Boardroom Discussions
“Health Equity’s Essential Role in ESG Conversations” was introduced during the 2022 BDHEA National Summit. Its plan follows the format of BDHEA’s 2021 “Prioritizing Health Equity in the Boardroom” to aid Black corporate directors in exerting direct influence on health equity discussions.
The strategic planning guide directs board action across four domains:
- Organization: Defining and achieving targets for boardroom diversity, data collection and workforce inclusion.
- Offerings: Evaluating health equity impact and establishing targeted interventions as pilot programs.
- Community: Exerting leverage by partnering with like-minded organizations–even competitors.
- Ecosystem: Strengthening supply chains and government relationships.
The workbook gives examples of ESG reporting frameworks, commitments and programs, as well as questions to guide boardroom discussion.
“The ESG playbook advances BDHEA’s initiatives to heighten the authority of Black corporate directors, senior executives and up-and-coming leaders,” said BDHEA Board Chair John Daniels Jr. “When their core values and advocacy align with corporate objectives, their influence can be profound.”
“Health Equity’s Essential Role in ESG Conversations” is available only to members of the BDHEA, a network of board members and executives engaged in health equity. BDHEA conducts live summits and virtual convenings for health equity advocates. To learn more about BDHEA membership, visit bdhea.org.