Fostering Inclusion: A Spotlight on HDA’s Black and African American Employee Network

February 12, 2024

As Black History Month is commemorated, we recognize and celebrate the remarkable contributions and innovations of Black and African Americans in the healthcare supply chain and beyond. While this month serves as an important time to reflect on past achievements, it also presents an opportunity to highlight present-day leaders, who are steadfast in their commitment to make a difference and foster inclusion within their company and across the industry.

HDA launched four industry-wide employee resource groups (ERGs) last fall as part of our ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. One of these ERGs is the Black and African American Employee Network (BAEN) ERG, designed to provide a supportive space for Black and African American employees and their allies. This dynamic network facilitates connections and mentorship and encourages professional development.

In honor of Black History Month, we shine a spotlight on the BAEN ERG and its mission. We spoke to volunteer lead W. Shawn Parker, Associate Director of Contracting at SAGENT Pharmaceuticals, about her interest in participating and her aspirations for the future of this impactful group.

HDA: Why did you choose to participate in HDA’s ERG program and volunteer to lead the BAEN ERG?

Parker: As an active participant and recipient of HDA’s past offerings, I want to acknowledge HDA’s efforts to provide support and career development, in a safe place, for members of my community.

Lending from my experience as a mentor and champion for colleagues, I desire to share the same leadership, care and commitment to create a community, address challenges and inspire change for Black and African American professionals within HDA’s membership and the healthcare supply chain sector at large.

HDA: Why is it important to have a space for Black/African American healthcare distribution professionals and allies from across industry to connect? Why should people participate in this ERG?

Parker: To share in our experience. For those that are Black/African American healthcare supply chain professionals, there are times when you may be the only person — or one of very few — in a work environment with no one to connect to culturally or share community.

These positive and progressive connections will help to increase professional engagement and development to assist members in strategic career planning, promote cultural awareness enrichment within the workplace and prepare members to lead in their respective roles. 

HDA: What do you hope to accomplish through the industry-wide ERG? What does success look like?   

Parker: Primarily, to increase recruitment and retention of Black/African American healthcare distribution professionals.

Also, the ability to attract and maintain an active ERG membership that will successfully implement our plans, incorporate a sense of belonging and introduce pathways to careers in healthcare for Black and African Americans.

Fostering Inclusion in the Healthcare Supply Chain

HDA’s ERGs are one way our organization has dedicated itself to fostering an inclusive culture within our association and the larger healthcare sector.

“It is important that HDA offers these groups as a safe space outside of employer-sponsored gatherings to encourage our members to connect with a broader group of like-minded professionals and discuss inclusion and belonging in the healthcare supply chain,” said Ann Bittman, HDA’s EVP and COO, and HDA staff sponsor of the BAEN ERG. 

“As these ERGs are industry-wide, participants will have the chance to mentor and learn from people who they may not have interacted with otherwise, including within different sectors of the supply chain and different career stages. In addition to networking, there are also volunteer leadership roles within the groups for professional development opportunities. It is a great time to join these ERGs as you will have a unique opportunity to help shape the direction of each group and make a significant impact.”

As we observe Black History Month, HDA and our members remain committed to developing spaces to foster and inspire future innovations by leaders from these communities.

We invite Black and African American healthcare supply chain professionals and allies from HDA’s member companies to join this or any of the other ERGs by filling out the form here. The groups will next meet on Tuesday, February 20 at 2:00 p.m. (ET), to continue their work and program planning for 2024. For more information on HDA’s ERGs, visit the HDA website or contact Subrina Ghorashi, Director, Education.