J&J commits $100M over next 5 years to promote health equity solutions for people of color

Johnson & Johnson's current log on display.

Johnson & Johnson announced Tuesday $100 million in commitments and collaborations over the next five years to invest in and promote health equity solutions for Black people and other communities of color in the United States.

In a news release, New Brunswick-based J&J said society has been significantly impacted by systemic racism, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic decline throughout this year, which have all spotlighted health care inequities.

Alex Gorsky. (File photo)

“There is an urgent need to take on the inequities rooted in systemic racism that threaten health in communities of color across the United States,” Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky said. “That’s why Johnson & Johnson is focusing its efforts and committing $100 million to address racial and social injustice as the critical public health issue that it is.

“As the largest and most broadly-based health care company in the world, we are uniquely positioned to convene private, public and community organizations in pursuit of this shared aspiration — and work together to make a meaningful impact through science, business, public health and philanthropy.”

J&J officials said the company’s commitment prioritizes three key areas:

  • Healthier communities: Investing in programs that help provide equitable health care for underserved communities;
  • Enduring alliances: Forging partnerships and alliances that combat racial and social health determinants;
  • Diverse & inclusive corporate culture: Ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Here’s a deeper dive into all three areas:

Healthier communities

Johnson & Johnson is investing in culturally competent community care solutions that create healthier outcomes for Black people and other communities of color. Several key community programs are immediately underway, and others will be deployed.

In order to better connect clinical and medical care with social and cultural needs, Johnson & Johnson is introducing new scholarships, mentoring and non-financial support to improve representation of people of color in medical, scientific and health professions.

The company will strengthen community health by providing technology enhancements and mobile health solutions that put health within reach of underserved and minority populations through partnerships with Community Based Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers.

Johnson & Johnson is undertaking a major initiative to increase access and participation in clinical trials in diverse populations.

“The quality of your health care should not be determined by your race and ethnicity,” Gorsky said.

While health equity efforts will go beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, knowing communities of color have been disproportionally impacted, J&J officials said the company has funded mobile vans to extend the reach of care in high-need and hard-to-reach areas to support COVID-19 testing, starting with Detroit and New Orleans. Further, the company is seeking diverse enrollment in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials to inform the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

As a kick-start effort to bring health equity ideas forward directly from those impacted, Johnson & Johnson will partner with local community leaders, businesses and entrepreneurs in six major cities across America to identify and invest in scalable and sustainable healthcare solutions that have the potential to create a positive impact for communities of color.

Enduring alliances

Johnson & Johnson is leveraging its global network to address social, environmental and economic determinants related to health inequities. The company is partnering with universities, health systems, NGOs and governments to build breakthrough coalitions to develop and expand economic, education and social programs that close the health disparity divide.

Starting in 2021, Johnson & Johnson will introduce alliances, collaborations and partnerships that support health equity solutions and educational programming ranging from maternal health resources to inspiring Black students to pursue science and health careers.

Johnson & Johnson is partnering with the Executive Leadership Council to provide college scholarships and other resources to Black students who have a passion for STEM, business, or health care-related fields.

Company officials said they will invest in partnerships that address the disproportionate health impact of climate change on communities of color. In addition to its commitment to health equity, through the Johnson & Johnson supply chain, the company said it also is proud to commit several hundred million in annual spend with Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses over the next five years to drive positive social and economic impact.

Michael Sneed, executive vice president, global corporate affairs, and chief communications officer, said J&J’s legacy will help.

“Our 130-plus-year history in health care, science and technology gives us access to a global network that we will activate and inspire to join us in influencing systemic change that positively impacts the quality of healthcare for Black people and other communities of color,” he said.

Diverse & inclusive corporate culture

Johnson & Johnson said it will remain focused on cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce that inspires innovative health care solutions around the world.

Company officials said the J&J is committed to hiring more diverse employees and has set a goal of achieving 50% growth of its African American talent at the manager and above levels in the U.S. over the next five years.

Johnson & Johnson also is enhancing human resources processes to optimize how it accesses, hires and develops talent, and is offering cultural immersion programs to enhance awareness and understanding.

Johnson & Johnson will make multimillion-dollar investments in the Healthier Communities and Enduring Alliances programs, while the investment made in its Diverse & Inclusive Corporate Culture will largely focus on enhancing processes, training, and education.

Although this announcement represents immediate action, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Wanda Hope said Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to address racial and social injustice is enduring.

“Our longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion gives us the foundation to drive sustainable change,” she said. “We are accelerating and expanding our efforts to strengthen our inclusive culture and build a workforce that reflects the diversity of the patients and communities we serve.”