Florida Blue is excited to celebrate this year’s Unity Award honorees because of the opportunity to spotlight the actions of everyday heroes. People who’ve helped make today’s diverse and vibrant Sarasota serve as a reminder that the power to do good is within each of us.
The impactful accomplishments of Sarasota Magazine’s Unity Award winners of 2021 should surprise no one. They come from a long history of Sarasota residents who’ve used their time, treasures and talents to improve the lives of others, regardless of the color of their skin, where they were born or how much money they have.
That’s what we’ve been doing at Florida Blue for more than 75 years.
We are committed to helping people and communities achieve better health. Our mission requires us to lead the way to health equity for our employees, members, customers and communities. We cannot achieve health equity without racial equity.
Over the next five years, Florida Blue will invest $25 million to address racial injustice and health inequities in our state as part of our company’s Equity Alliance to address systemic racism and health inequities in the communities we serve.
We will also continue to convene community leaders and like-minded companies and organizations both statewide and locally to work together to advance racial justice and improved health outcomes in our communities.
Our Florida Blue Foundation has launched health equity cultural competence training to help health care professionals better understand patients’ diverse values and beliefs, and customize treatment to meet their cultural and linguistic needs.
Additionally, our Reshaping Health Access Challenge asked entrepreneurs, nonprofits, social innovators and grassroots organizations to create new approaches to access, quality and affordable health care and health education in underserved communities in Florida.
During the global COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with the Tampa Bay Partnership to present its regional health equity report and our Market President David Pizzo is helping launch the partnership’s first Racial Equity Task Force.
Communities of color have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic. The mortality rate among Black and Latino people with COVID-19 is 40 percent higher than the rate in white populations. These systemic inequities cry out for long-overdue attention. Our CEO and President Pat Geraghty recently led a coalition of more than 150 business and community leaders from across the state in calling for a special effort to vaccinate our underserved communities and essential workers.
At Florida Blue, we are committed to taking bold and measurable action to promote diversity and inclusion among our employees, members, health care partners and in our communities. It’s the same boldness that inspired Emma Edwina Booker to turn a rental hall into Sarasota’s first grammar school for children of color, despite the fact she was not a teacher. It’s the same boldness that inspired small business owner and pharmacist Neil Humphrey Sr. to organize caravans from Newtown to Lido Beach so that Black families could enjoy the beaches Jim Crow laws said they couldn’t.
The power to do good exists in each of us. Take the first step. Others will join you.