In 2020, the collision of twin pandemics – systemic racism and COVID-19 – cast a spotlight on deep fractures in our society. In particular, these combined forces made the fight for racial health equity, especially in the United States, more urgent than ever before.
Tragically, these twin pandemics demonstrated yet again that good health is too often determined – or at least heavily influenced – by the color of one’s skin. They also reinforced that delivering equitable access to quality health care will take cross-sector collaboration, especially in areas where markets have failed, and governments alone cannot sufficiently address needs.
The need to address racial health injustice has prompted corporate leaders to consider their companies’ roles in supporting solutions, including increased private sector investment in improving health for communities that have been historically marginalized and put at higher risk.
At Johnson & Johnson, we felt this sense of responsibility deeply. As the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, employees at every level of our organization reflected on what we could offer the renewed racial and social justice movement we saw unfolding globally. As a result of that period of self-reflection, last November, Our Race to Health Equity (ORTHE) was born.