WASHINGTON (September 22) — Today, the Black Women’s Health Imperative launched a national anti-racism initiative that will tackle workplace inequities in order to improve the health and wellness of Black women.
“Through the development of this multi-year initiative, we will create national standards to transform the experiences of Black women in the workplace and allow them to thrive,” said Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative. “We know that each year, Black Americans have over 74,000 more deaths due to health inequities1. Chronic stress due to racism affects us on a cellular level2 3. We have to address this public health crisis with more than just conventional diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.”
Black women are less likely to feel supported at work than other groups and far more likely to face racism and gender discrimination4 5. The chronic stress of such discrimination has been well documented as a precursor to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other illnesses.
By implementing evidence-based strategies that account for gender and race, the BWHI aims to create tangible, measurable, long-term change by centering the voices of Black women and their experiences in the workplace. BWHI will build dialogue and partnerships with corporate executives to promote equitable and fair policies and practices in the workplace.
The initiative is led by Dr. Angelica Geter, BWHI‘s Chief Strategy Officer, with initial funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which awarded the Black Women’s Health Imperative $1 million as part of its commitment to nonprofits fighting systemic racism.
As part of the initiative, BWHI will create a corporate fairness index identifying workplaces that are fair, equitable, and safe for Black women. Corporate leaders can be an agent of change by joining a cohort of companies to pilot our corporate equity index and fairness training. BWHI also plans to help corporations implement evidence-based fairness training to move beyond conventional diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. In addition, BWHI will create an Anti-Racism Toolkit (ART) for Wellness that will empower Black women to stay well even as they navigate discriminatory workplaces.
“For corporations to create meaningful change, it isn’t enough to simply host an annual implicit bias training,” Goler Blount said. “Real change can only happen when the actual policies and practices that safeguard racism and gender discrimination in the workplace are abolished.”
“The inequities endured by Black women in the workplace are the result of more than 400 years of racism and discrimination,” said Angelica Geter, Chief Strategy Officer of the Black Women’s Health Imperative. “It will take a dedicated, collaborative, and intersectional approach to dismantle systemic racism in the workplace– one that doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk.”
About the Black Women’s Health Imperative:
Established originally as the National Black Women’s Health Project in 1983, the BWHI is the oldest national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and wellness of our nation’s 21 million Black women and girls — physically, emotionally, and financially. Our core mission is advancing health equity and social justice for Black women, across the lifespan, through policy, advocacy, education, research, and leadership development.
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