Dismantling inequities takes fundamental change across sectors, systems and people. At Sanofi, we know this means a shift in how we invest in society, and a long-term commitment of people and resources. It means that we each need to fundamentally change how we listen, innovate and operate.
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are a highly effective segment of the public health workforce, and yet the lowest paid. Mostly women of color, they dedicate their lives to the health of their neighbors.
In 2019, CHWs founded their new advocacy organization, The National Association of Community Health Workers (NACHW), which, along with Sanofi support, is planning the first national, virtual platform to better unify, train, employ and support all CHWs. To begin this effort, NACHW gathered feedback from CHWs, Community Health Workers Network and Association leaders, and allies across sectors while keeping the needs of these workers at the center. They created a national advisory, formed workgroups and led interviews and surveys to develop buy-in and insights.
Next, NACHW invited Sanofi employees, technical and policy experts, and the CHWs themselves to collaborate in an Innovation Journey to inform plans for the project. Two hundred Sanofi US colleagues across businesses, levels, geographies and backgrounds responded and rolled up their sleeves with NACHW and its partners to participate in design thinking exercises that placed the perspectives of CHWs at the center. Insights from the ‘design sprints’ were evaluated to inform the next stage of the project. NACHW’s vision for the project expanded from an original ‘database’ concept to better support and deploy CHWs, to a call for a national digital home for CHWs with a broad range of supports that would also professionally elevate and care for this workforce.
But the Journey experience didn’t end there. The hope was to bring together colleagues from across Sanofi — anyone who carried a passion for social impact, inclusion and health equity — and invite them to bring their leadership and voices to the conversation. Each day would be thoughtfully curated for the participants as an immersive experience focused on fostering empathy, allyship, trust and belonging. They were asked to bring a mindset grounded in humility, and they were offered an integrated development opportunity tied to Sanofi’s Play to Win, CSR, DE&I, agility and culture transformation objectives.
When the Journey was complete, high survey scores reflected the following:
- Participants became informed CHW and health equity advocates.
- They gained knowledge and skills in collaboration, allyship, empathy, listening, purpose at work, peer coaching and business prioritization and execution.
- Measures in employee value proposition and employee fulfillment, key signals for employee experience and retention, were also high and expressions of pride in and appreciation for Sanofi’s commitments to CHWs purpose, and people were many.
- Ninety-six percent of participants would recommend the Journey to peers and 93% would recommend working at Sanofi to friends.
As Sanofi continues to help fund and support NACHW’s work to build a US digital home for the CHW workforce, Sanofi is taking these next steps:
- A Sanofi CHW Advisory Team will form to provide business and technical expertise to support the NACHW digital home for CHWs, engage more deeply with CHW organizations across the US and to integrate CHW perspectives into Sanofi work.
- The unique team of 200 employees who participated in the Innovation Journey will be invited to continue and expand as a new Sanofi US Health Equity Collaborative, with ongoing opportunities for connection, learning, activation, and business integration.
- Our CSR, DE&I, HR, and business teams will continue to collaborate, to innovate and offer more experiences that support our social impact and culture transformation objectives in ways our employees value.
As we chase the miracles of science to improve people’s lives, we hold a belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive: to be healthy, to be an innovator and to be part of a flourishing community. Our partner NACHW reminds us that supporting the livelihood and career pathways of CHWs today means a more diverse and effective public health workforce tomorrow. We look forward to a year or two from now, when a new digital home breaks ground for community health workers, supporting their livelihood and the improved health and well-being of their communities. When it does, our people will be there in allyship, in support of the vision NACHW holds for its activation and impact, and the vision CHWs hold for their future.