Honoring Black History: February and Year-Round

February 28, 2023

With Black History Month coming to a close, HDA and our members are reflecting on the contributions of Black and African Americans throughout history and across the country. Though the month marked a vital and designated occasion, our members and association work year-round to promote an industry culture that welcomes and celebrates the contributions of individuals from these communities and others as we strengthen the sense of belonging across the distribution sector. The following summarizes some of the ways our sector has acknowledged Black and African American history, in February and beyond.

Empowering Employees to Reflect and Celebrate

Throughout February, HDA members reflected on the importance of the national holiday through Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and other platforms.

McKesson showcased its Black Excellence ERG and the many ways this group empowers employees in their careers by helping make meaningful connections. The first spotlight focused on Troy Felder, Senior Human Resources Business Partner, and Januari Lewis, Senior Program Manager for Pharmacy and Healthcare Solutions, who highlighted how their engagement with Black Excellence has benefited not only themselves, but others throughout the company and their communities. This ERG also hosted a virtual celebration honoring the contributions of the Black community at McKesson and beyond, attended by the company’s CEO Brian Tyler.

Additionally, Medline’s Black Employee Network ERG recently developed a new video to raise awareness about the contributions of Black scientists throughout history.

Henry Schein’s Black Legacy Professionals (BLP) ERG developed an array of meaningful content for their team members. Coming off the heels of what the ERG offered last year, a four-part series illuminating the challenges and nuances of Black mental health, the team wanted to build upon this by transitioning their focus to the professional development of Black talent. In BLP’s eighth installment of their flagship series, “Talking Matters,” the team hosted a fireside chat predicated on sharing strategies for career advancement. The discussion included topics such as self-advocacy, upskilling opportunities, strategic networking and self-care to create continuity with last year’s theme. The ERG also supplemented this programming with a water cooler-style event, allowing team members to gather and connect over a game of Black History Month trivia. Further, the company’s Engagement Team encouraged colleagues across the globe to patron Black-owned stores when hosting in-person connection events. Henry Schein’s celebration efforts are bolstered by the ongoing support of their CEO Stanley Bergman, who actively participates in BLP’s events; Bergman sent a memo to all Team Schein Members honoring the achievements of members of the Black community both past and present. Further, Bergman published an article on LinkedIn celebrating the immense impact Black and African Americans continue to make.

These aforementioned ERGs foster a culture that supports the development, recruitment and retention of Black and African American employees year-round. Information about these and more HDA member ERGs is below:

As part of HDA’s ongoing initiatives to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the healthcare distribution sector, there are efforts to create industry-wide ERGs, following the association’s assessment of the DEI landscape. These groups will provide opportunities for HDA member company employees to collaborate with colleagues in the industry based on shared identities and allyship as well as interests, backgrounds and experiences.

Engaging in Effective Partnerships and Advocacy

In celebration of Black History Month, the AmerisourceBergen Foundation supported the National Medical Association, the collective voice of African American physicians and a leading force for strengthening health equity in medicine and eliminating disparities in healthcare. Further, AmerisourceBergen recently committed $100 million to Project Black, a private equity fund launched by Ariel Alternatives that “aims to scale sustainable minority-owned businesses to serve as leading vendors to Fortune 500 companies — supporting supply chain diversity.”

Additionally, Jerrica Mathis, Head of Federal Government Relations at Cardinal Health, recently joined other healthcare leaders for a discussion with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra about healthcare initiatives to support the Black community.

Acknowledging History While Envisioning the Future

Beyond HDA member companies’ activities, the association provided opportunities for its staff to learn and reflect on how Black and African American history has shaped the American experience. To commemorate the month, HDA team members recently visited the National Museum of African American History & Culture, located just steps away from the organization’s new headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The museum is a valuable educational resource showcasing the American story by documenting the incredible contributions and resilience of African Americans before the founding of this country and since,” HDA’s SVP, Federal Government Affairs and Alliance Development Kristen Freitas, said about the visit. “I was particularly moved to see my inspirational neighbor, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a recipient of the 2015 National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award, mentioned in one of the museum exhibits. Joan was a Freedom Rider, arrested many times and served time in jail for her participation in lunch counter protests.”

This activity built upon HDA’s MLK Day of Service volunteer event, for which staff created personal hygiene kits for So Others Might Eat (SOME). A nonprofit striving to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness since 1970, SOME provides housing, emergency and social services, healthcare, education and workforce development as well as advocacy services that create healthier futures for D.C. residents experiencing physical or mental health challenges. The nation's capital has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, with Black and Latinx residents disproportionately affected.

Throughout February and every month, HDA is committed to collaborating across industry to develop and share DEI best practices to enhance our organizations — and ultimately strengthen the industry’s ability to innovate and deliver healthcare products safely, efficiently and reliably.

To learn more about HDA’s commitment to DEI, click here.