Most employers offer benefits to promote and protect the health and well-being of their employees. These benefits can range from affordable health care options, on-site daycare, and healthy food choices in the cafeteria, to free health screenings and discounts on gym memberships. But private sector employers can go beyond considering the needs of their employees and clients. By addressing the needs of the communities where they exist and finding the best solutions for their region's concerns, they can positively influence social determinants of health and move toward health equity—optimal health for all.
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Shantanu Nundy, MD, Ellen Kelsay, and I discussed four specific opportunities for employers to advance health equity. But there was a fifth call to action for employers in our article on which I would like to elaborate here: companies must take their health equity efforts beyond the workplace and into the surrounding communities. By taking a broader view of their role, private-sector employers can become incubators for highly effective health equity solutions backed by research from their employees' and clients’ experiences and outcomes. (abbreviated author introduction)