Black History Month celebrates the achievements of Black Americans and recognizes their central role in our country’s history. Eden Health believes these accomplishments need to be recognized not just during Black History Month, but every month and day of the year.
The evolution into what is today known as Black History Month began in September 1915 (50 years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery), when historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) . ASNLH was dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent.
As a company, we wanted to use this month to double down on efforts to expand our education and community reach. Here’s how we (virtually) got together to celebrate the diversity that makes us all better employees and people.
Our Company Commitment
Celebrating Black History Month is a natural extension of the mission that guides our work year-round. As a healthcare company, it’s especially important for us to understand the long history of racism and discrimination in the medical industry. Acknowledging the ongoing impact of racism in healthcare helps us to form better bonds with our patients by holding space for their lived experiences and also helps us to achieve our mission of ensuring everyone has a trusted relationship with their provider.
From recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday and hosting Open Discussions specifically focused on current events and Black history topics to meeting each month for our Racial Justice Book Club to ensuring inclusive hiring practices, Eden has taken deliberate steps to make sure we live out our values daily instead of just highlighting them one month out of the year.
Unique Ways We’re Celebrating
Eden’s People team wanted to think outside of the box to engage employees throughout Black History Month. Drawing inspiration from President Barack Obama’s famous 2016 quote “Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history, or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington or from some of our sports heroes. It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.," Eden’s Head of Talent, Nyala Khan, launched a series of My Reflections presentations.
This was an opportunity to highlight individual narratives about those prominent Black figures in our own lives who have shaped, challenged, and strengthened us. Team members were given the floor each day for a week to share their stories with the company during our daily all hands meeting.
We’ve highlighted some excerpts of the personal stories shared by Eden Health Team members below:
From the poem “A Sea of Black” written by Prince David Okebalama:
‘I still find myself in a nation, running from it’s past…
America, searching for its soul
Only a month to remember, the sea of Black with memories untold?
Fallen heroes in black and white,
Civil Rights movers, who fought hard for my people to see the light
Yet, the question has always been easy when posed to me
What do you stand for and who do you stand with in a month like this
it’s easy every single time’
From a family story shared by Lawrence Gross:
'When my grandfather passed away we learned a new fun family fact. My grandfather had an entire second family, which was a surprise to my family. Ultimately, it was one of the best things to ever happen to us, because this discovery gave us my Uncle Anthony. My Uncle Anthony is a Black man who worked for New York City for over 20 years as the Director of Diversity Programs and specifically worked with construction companies to ensure that $1 out of every $4 dollars are spent on minority-owned or women-owned businesses - which is now a New York City law. My Uncle Anthony inspires me to be a better person and leader every day.'
From a family history shared by Ashley Coleman:
‘My mother, Nanette, showed me what strength is — and that you don’t need to be a product of your circumstances. Nanette was born and raised in the South Side of Chicago in 1964 and grew up in the projects. Her experiences as a young adult consisted of being held at gunpoint, observing gang violence, and experiencing physical trauma. She loved to read and often imagined a bigger, better life for herself. She became “the first” of many things in her family — the first person to graduate high school in her family, became a first generation home buyer, the first to obtain a college degree, the first to leave Chicago, the first to travel internationally. She even inspired a few “firsts” along the way. One of her goals was to make sure her children didn’t experience the same challenges she did. When she became a single mother, she made sacrifices and worked hard to make sure we had everything we needed — from art and music lessons to vacations and family time. She’s the blueprint of my success and happiness, and the reason I went into healthcare.’
We're grateful to every team member who shared their personal stories throughout the week and gave us all a chance to recognize and hold space for the people who helped shape them.
Speaking of team events, February’s Lunch and Learn event will be tough to beat in the future — we welcomed author Mateo Askaripour, author of the acclaimed novel Black Buck, on Zoom. Askaripour was game to answer all of our questions, whether they related to the plot and development of his book or to the function of Sales organizations at a startup. Some of us (we won’t name names) stayed up too late in the following days compulsively reading Black Buck and then giving it a solid 5 stars on Goodreads. We encourage you to do the same!
This month, we were proud to partner with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) of Chicago to begin distributing COVID-19 vaccinations to community members most affected by the pandemic. As vaccines become more widely available, we want to continue fostering partnerships like these that enable us to promote health, wellness, and healing.
Growing Our Team
Eden Health has prioritized efficient hiring practices to make sure applicants are evaluated in a consistent way. Our internal interview process is structured in such a way that interviewers have less opportunity to project biases onto the applicant. We also partner with organizations like Jumpstart so that we can proactively source talent from a wider pool of applicants.
The results of these initiatives are starting to show up in our data. After a recent review of our applicants and employees of our clinical team, we learned that 40% of our applicants identify as non-white and 46% of our employees identify as non-white. Specifically, 13% of our employee population identifies as Black, which is aligned with representative data nationwide, but low for New York City, where we’re headquartered. As an organization, we recognize that this is a good starting point in terms of maintaining an inclusive culture, but that we need to work harder to prioritize diversity.
Our culture is full of heart, and we aim to reflect that in everything from patient interactions to the candidate experience and onboarding process. We always want our people to feel like they belong at Eden Health and can be their full selves here.