Equity is an issue across the healthcare field, with people of color, women and other underrepresented groups facing disparities in care and representation. But the diversity gap isn't limited to the doctor's office or hospital – it also extends to the healthcare supply chain of businesses that help us create our life-changing technologies and products.
We're stepping in to help close the gap by collaborating with the non-profit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).
Our $37.5 million initiative — $25 million from Abbott and $12.5 million from LISC — to support diverse small businesses includes growth capital, loans and coaching to help businesses expand and create jobs, while creating a more diverse healthcare industry.
Working with LISC follows our investments in similar initiatives:
- Our work to increase diversity in clinical trials and medical education;
- Future Well Communities, aimed at breaking down social and economic barriers to health;
- The American Diabetes Association's Health Equity Now to help build trust and increase access between Black Americans and the medical field; and
- Working to include more women and people of color among the faces of STEM, and providing a blueprint of what's worked for us with companies everywhere.
All of which will help us meet our 2030 Sustainability Plan to improve the lives of 3 billion people every year by expanding access and equity in health, while advancing diversity and inclusion.
We've made significant progress in expanding our work with diverse suppliers in recent years. We currently work with 6,000 diverse suppliers, increasing spending by 23% in 2020 and 39% last year. Our supplier diversity program was named No. 2 in the 2021 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.
But we know we can — and should — do more.
We recognize that in healthcare, diverse small suppliers face strict regulations and systemic budget challenges, which can make it difficult to compete against larger, well established companies. This, compounded with implicit biases in the broader business community, makes growth all the more difficult. We asked a few diverse business owners who we work with today to share their stories.
"Sometimes it's just the mere fact of the color of your skin and people make assumptions about what it is you can or cannot do," said Doug Crawley, CEO and president of Staffing Synergies. "And even then, when you do well, it is looked at as you are doing very well 'for a minority company.'"
Added his son Geoff, "We want to make certain that we set an opportunity for access for the next minority business enterprise, that they're seen just the same way. And we're not seen as different, but we're seen as just as capable."
By working to create supply chains that are more inclusive, we believe we can deliver not only greater diversity in the healthcare industry but also help drive broader economic and health equity.
Our success will be measured by these clear goals in our 2030 Sustainability Plan:
- Increasing our overall spending with diverse and small businesses by 50% by 2030
- Increasing our spending with Black- and women-owned businesses 150% by 2025
"Diversity of thinking, diversity of people, diversity in just about any aspect of your business goes directly to the bottom line as more companies understand that there's not only a social imperative, but there's a business imperative behind it," said Karl Johnson, president and chief financial officer, Diversified Chemical Technologies, Inc.