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When it comes to health care, ‘you can’t take a one-size-fits-all-approach’

October 13, 2022, 1:55 AM UTC
IBM senior vice president Nickle LaMoreaux speaks at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on October 11, 2022.
Kristy Walker for Fortune

Creating a healthy business starts with healthy employees—and employers are redefining what it means to take care of their employees and their changing needs coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“[At Johnson & Johnson], we have the health of the employee front and center, whether that be physical health, whether that be mental health, even financial health and wellness,” said Vanessa Broadhurst, executive vice president of global corporate affairs at Johnson & Johnson. “But when I think about that, I also think about the holistic environment we are trying to create in the workplace.” 

The need for a community prevailed during the pandemic, as more employees relied on their company to guide them through finding reliable health care information than ever before. IBM senior vice president and chief human resources officer Nickle LaMoreaux emphasized that businesses don’t need to be in the health care space to ensure that health is central to their workforce during a panel discussion on Tuesday at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. 

The responsibility for the employer has shifted over the last few years, and IBM learned that its role was to meet employees where they were at in their personal health journey. “You can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach,” said LaMoreaux. And part of fine-tuning IBM’s approach to providing better quality health care included listening to employee feedback from micro-cultures within their team. 

Like LaMoreaux, LaFawn Davis, senior vice president of environmental, social, and governance at Indeed, believes understanding intersectionality is important to providing benefits that actually work for their employees.

“We cannot look at the workforce as just one big organization. It really has to be tailored towards different demographics and not just individual demographics, but intersections,” Davis said. “Normally when I introduce myself, I say I am black. I’m queer. I’m a woman. I am of a mature age. I am a mother of an adult child. And I’m fabulous.

Each layer of her individuality, Davis explained, gives her a different experience of the workforce than other people. And understanding how these experiences make employees feel allows Indeed to create a place where people feel a sense of well-being. 

But employees bear the responsibility of vocalizing these experiences so employers can meet their needs.

“Resource groups are a great voice for change,” Davis said, explaining they allow the employer to ask specific questions about which benefits are working for them, which aren’t, and which are missing from their package. And this open conversation gives the companies greater insight to keep up with the changing health care needs within their workforces.

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