Building a better workplace begins with health equity
The workplace is more than where you simply earn a paycheck. It is also a place where you can build a healthy life.
That’s the philosophy at ADP, a global provider of human capital management services and software that is very focused on providing healthy equity for its 58,000 employees.
“Health is wealth,” said Bob Lockett, ADP’s chief diversity and talent officer at ADP. “We think everyone should have the same opportunity for a healthy quality of life, which is why our organization is trying to move the needle so we all can have a better lifestyle as we age.”
Lockett was on the expert writing team for “Driving Health Equity in the Workplace,” a recent report commissioned by the American Heart Association’s CEO Roundtable, a group of nearly 50 CEOs dedicated to understanding and eliminating health inequities where people work. The report was developed by a writing group made up of business leaders and experts in health equity.
Health equity means everyone has the same chance to be healthy regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, veteran status or other factors.
And the workplace can make a huge difference.
“Recent events have only heightened awareness of the critical importance of ensuring that all of our associates have equal access to health care and benefits, regardless of what community you’re in,” Lockett said. “Providing resources and encouraging healthy habits makes a tremendous difference for everyone.”
The first step to advancing healthy equity in the workplace is ensuring a diverse recruitment strategy. Make sure you hire a diverse group of employees, including those with varying degrees of education, Lockett says.
For example, ADP has partnered with OneTen, a coalition of companies aiming to hire and promote 1 million Black people without four-year degrees over the next 10 years, founded by CEO Roundtable members. ADP also fine-tuned its overall recruiting strategy, with strong results, Lockett said.
“Representation is important. If you want to diversify your recruiting pool, then you have to hire diverse recruiters as well. With this appropriate type of outreach, the percentage of folks from underrepresented groups has gone up tremendously,” he said.
“We believe that the opportunity to achieve health equity starts with secure employment. Once you have job stability and access to great health care benefits, you can then start to take advantage of employer benefits and see positive health outcomes.”
Hiring people who may not ordinarily have access to health care is good start. But the key to achieving health equity in the workplace is supporting the well-being of employees through education and other strategies, he said.
ADP offers health-based incentive programs and educates employees on choosing the right selection of health benefits. At many of its larger locations, ADP also provides on-site health care, such as a doctor or a nurse practitioner.
“If an associate isn’t feeling well, they can see a health care professional right away, without an appointment, without commuting and with no out-of-pocket cost,” he said.
“You may have to go to another doctor later. But for basic health services, it’s really important to us that our associates, particularly those who might face barriers in accessing care, have medical care in the workplace.”
On-site health care practitioners also help educate employees from communities who may have a higher chance for risk factors that can lead to chronic disease.
“There are certain health challenges different communities might face. So there’s opportunity to educate people about specific precautions they might take, such as the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and eating healthy foods to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure,” he said.
ADP also prides itself on its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. Since 2019, the company has gone beyond same-sex marriage laws and offered all-inclusive health care benefits to any domestic partner.
“Same-sex partner benefits are tremendously important, and we’ve been a proponent of that for years,” Lockett said.
Additionally, in this stressful era of COVID-19 and racial equality protests, ADP believes mental health care coverage is more urgent now than ever, Lockett said.
“In this day and age, mental wellness is as equally important as physical wellness, which is why we offer those benefits and encourage all of our associates to use the mental health programs available to them if they need it,” he said.
“It ties back to our workplace culture of fairness and equity across the board, the idea that ‘Each person counts.’ It’s a simple statement, but if you’re from an underrepresented group, it means we want you to have the opportunity to be your authentic selves, to have the support and the mental health space you need to be effective at your role and have a great quality of life.”
Editor’s Note: Equity at Work highlights efforts underway at companies in the CEO Roundtable. However, the American Heart Association does not endorse or promote products or services from ADP or any other organization. Comments and opinions expressed in this editorial by people outside the Association do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Association.