CAHRS Partner Company Shares its Strategy to Address Health Equity


Human Resource Executive's January 29, 2021 issue's "Employers must 'lean in more diligently' on racial health inequities" shares CAHRS parter member McDonald's journey to address health equity in its workforce. Even before COVID-19 hit, Black and brown employees already were experiencing many health inequalities. And now in an ongoing pandemic, Black employees are facing additional health disparities: Data shows they are more likely to get COVID-19, be hospitalized and die from the disease. They also have more mistrust in vaccines and are more reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ajay Madiah, senior director of global total rewards at McDonald’s, said the company was early in addressing health equity before COVID-19 hit. “Even anecdotally, right away we saw that there were opportunities and disparities within our healthcare system,” he said. “We knew there was something to be addressed, but we didn’t know how to get after it.”

He has been relying on data to help identify some of the issues and glean better ideas on how to fix them. Although many companies have tons of data across multiple vendors that aren’t connecting, he said, organizations can find data they already have. For instance, are people not accepting job offers because of your plan design?

Surveying employees has also been an important way to collect data about what different workers and demographics think about your health plan offerings and other benefits, he said. “It’s a really easy way to see, when you’re designing your plans, are you capturing everybody in what you’re doing? The choices that we provide for our employees, is there enough differential to our plans to accommodate our populations?”

Education and communication also are big parts of McDonald’s strategy to help all of its employees understand their healthcare and benefits plans, Madiah said. “There’s huge opportunity around fine-tuning those communications so they are easily understandable. And there’s a lot to be said about hitting them at the right time when they need it.”