Building Healthy Communities Through Inclusion & Diversity
By Cristina Santos, Head of Inclusion & Diversity, North America
Inclusion and diversity aren’t just buzz words at Sanofi. They’re critical components to our mission of empowering life and supporting all patients – regardless of race, gender, background or sexual orientation – through their health challenges. By prioritizing these qualities in our work, we’re better positioned to help patients beyond our walls and transform the broader healthcare ecosystem to meet their needs.
When it comes to implementing these values, we seek out innovative collaborations that address disparities in healthcare for certain populations. For instance, in April 2018, we sponsored a roundtable that addressed some of the barriers to influenza vaccination in older adults. The findings were astonishing. Older African American and Hispanic patients (aged 65+) were vaccinated at a much lower rate (65 and 60 percent) than Caucasians and Asians (72 and 76 percent). Further, these populations face higher rates of chronic health conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, which can exacerbate flu symptoms and increase the risk of severe outcomes, hospitalization and even death.
Seeing the need for immediate solutions, Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, partnered with Sustainable Healthy Communities (SHC) to launch a population health initiative called DRIVE (Demonstrating Rising Influenza Vaccine Equity), aimed at improving influenza vaccination rates in underserved, vulnerable communities.
Through a series of pilot projects with select regional health systems, DRIVE has already produced a sizable increase in flu immunization rates (between 15 – 50 percent) among these populations. The results were so profound, Sanofi was recently honored with the National Minority Quality Forum’s Excellence in Community Health Award for our role in spearheading the program.
This honor only further motivates us to continue addressing racial inequities in flu immunization. To that end, we are planning to expand DRIVE for the 2019 – 2020 flu season with new efforts, including a pilot project with Walmart. In addition, we continue to support the National Hispanic Medical Association’s Seasonal Influenza Campaign to increase rates of vaccination in high-risk Latino populations.
But our commitment to patients isn’t limited to solving one issue. To date, we’ve sponsored or engaged with many organizations focused on building diversity and tackling healthcare disparities in local communities. Some examples include:
- Starting the dialogue on clinical trial diversity, and other health topics impacting racial minorities, through our sponsorship of the Black Health Matters Summit and Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation’s AWARE for All events.
- Serving as founding sponsor of the National Association of Community Health Workers, which brings these critical healthcare professionals together to help communities achieve health, equity and social justice.
- Furthering our support of women in science by backing programs – including the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s Gender Parity Collaborative – geared toward building equality, increasing representation and empowering female leaders in the healthcare and biopharma industries.
- Driving an inclusive culture by supporting our Employee Resource Groups, which bring together individuals with common backgrounds, interests and experiences. By embracing the rich diversity within our organization, we offer employees a platform to exchange ideas, network and enhance their career development, while also helping our company deliver on key business objectives.
These initiatives share several themes, but there is one that stands out as the most important: they are centered on driving actionable change in healthcare for all populations. They do not exist simply to check a box. By championing diversity, we are putting smart business values into action, helping us better support our customers, employees, patients and communities and reach the goal of improving health and well-being for everyone.