J&J joins Bristol Myers Squibb with $100M commitment to diversity efforts
A day after the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation launched a $100 million program to diversify clinical trials, Johnson & Johnson says it’s also committing $100 million to health equity efforts.
“There is an urgent need to take on the inequities rooted in systemic racism that threaten health in communities of color across the United States,” CEO Alex Gorsky said in a statement. “That’s why Johnson & Johnson is focusing its efforts and committing $100 million to address racial and social injustice as the critical public health issue that it is.”
J&J initially made a $10 million commitment back in May, shortly after George Floyd’s death. Then over the next several months, it worked to create a “broader and more comprehensive plan,” which involved increasing their commitment to $100 million over the next five years. In total, the commitment makes up about 0.1% of the company’s $82.1 billion revenue in 2019.
The money will go to a variety of programs and partnerships, from Covid-19 testing initiatives to diversity and inclusion efforts within the company.
“The quality of your healthcare should not be determined by your race and ethnicity,” Gorsky said.
Amid the pandemic, Black Americans have contracted Covid-19 at a rate 2.6 times higher than white Americans, and they’ve died at a 2.1 times higher rate. Indigenous and Latinx populations are both at a 2.8 times higher risk of infection, according to the CDC. Part of J&J’s effort includes diversifying clinical trials, including its own Covid-19 vaccine trials.
“Built on a legacy of purpose-driven actions and a commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Company aims to achieve representation of populations that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in the implementation of its Covid-19 Phase III trial program,” the company said in a statement.
The pharma also says it’s funding mobile vans to support Covid-19 testing in high-need areas, starting with Detroit and New Orleans. It promised to partner with community clinics and federally-qualified health centers to improve technology and mobile health options, and with the nonprofit Executive Leadership Council to provide scholarships to Black students interested in the STEM, business or health fields. Other partnerships will address the disproportionate health impact of climate change on communities of color.
Taking an inward look, J&J aims to significantly bolster diversity in management roles over the next five years, and rework HR processes “to optimize how it accesses, hires, and develops talent.”
Yesterday, the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation tagged $100 million from a previously announced $300 million commitment for a new program to tackle the lack of diversity in clinical trials. The program includes a training component for 250 new clinical investigators, fellowships for 250 minority medical students, and an infrastructure fund to help investigators build new clinical trial sites.
The new sites will likely go “in clinical trial deserts where … the disease burden is high but clinical trials don’t exist in those sites, or even look to building out in urban centers through safety net hospitals and others,” John Damonti, president of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, told Endpoints News.
Back in July, Johnson & Johnson removed two lines of skin-lightening products popular in Asia, as companies faced criticism that such products are racist, according to an NPR report. “Conversations over the past few weeks highlighted that some product names or claims on our Neutrogena and Clean & Clear dark spot reducer products represent fairness or white as better than your own unique skin tone,” the company told NPR. “This was never our intention – healthy skin is beautiful skin.”