At the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, we recognize the systemic barriers that have led to health disparities for many in the CF community, particularly Black, Hispanic, and other communities of color. One of our greatest challenges is addressing these barriers to ensure all individuals with CF have the opportunity for optimal health outcomes. The Foundation has formally committed to equity, racial justice, diversity, and inclusion as core principles guiding our efforts. We are working together to build an inclusive and respectful environment where everyone is welcomed, and where talented individuals from all backgrounds, identities, and lived experiences have the opportunity to thrive.
Our Office of DEI has emphasized building an inclusive talent strategy and creating awareness to help better serve our community. We formed the Racial Justice, Equity and Inclusion (RJEI) Advisory Council, which works to establish and review recommendations, best practices, and action items that support the Foundation’s efforts to foster an inclusive work environment that is free from discrimination and provides a rewarding employee experience for all team members.
We also convened a Racial Justice Working Group (RJWG), a collaboration between CF Foundation staff and external advisors working to improve health outcomes for and engagement with Black people with CF. Listening to, and working alongside, a diverse set of stakeholders helps us better address health disparities and identify opportunities to apply lessons learned to a broader audience, including people with CF from other groups.
As part of the Office of DEI’s efforts and feedback from the RJEI Advisory Council, we transitioned our identity-based affinity groups into Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), including the Black Employee Network, Asian-American Pacific Islander, DiversAbility, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ groups. These ERGs are funded, employer-recognized groups that support networking, mentoring, and opportunities for professional development. We are also launching the Development Equity Mentorship Program, drawing mentees from ERGs who will have the opportunity to gain insights from leaders across the Foundation. Staff can also participate in comprehensive virtual trainings through the Foundation’s partnership with ExecOnline.
An outcome of the RJWG’s efforts was identifying three areas where the Foundation should focus on developing recommendations related to improving programs, processes, and policies: (1) Health Equities and Outcomes (2) Diverse Workforce Development and (3) Community. This group continues to work on finalizing formal recommendations where the Foundation may have the greatest impact to address systemic barriers that have led to disparities.
Our commitment to embedding racial justice and DEI principles in all we do is critical to achieving our mission of serving all people with CF, and to building and maintaining a strong and inclusive culture and community.