10:06 AM

Doing the work behind the promise



Horizon issues a progress report on its commitment to social justice.

In the summer of 2020, after the killing of George Floyd and as millions of Americans stood up to the problem of social injustice, Horizon issued a Pledge to become part of the solution. To turn words of The Pledge into action, President & CEO Gary St. Hilaire appointed Horizon’s Vice President of Litigation, Labor and Employment – Zenola Harper – to lead a team on an organized work plan across all areas of the company. Each team was assigned to take specific actions within the five elements of The Pledge:

  • We will listen and learn from the communities we serve and our employees through active, ongoing conversations based on mutual respect and an appreciation for the value of diversity.
  • We will reflect the diversity of the communities we serve throughout the organization so that we can achieve our mission to empower our members to achieve their best health.
  • We will address health care disparities related to race and the social barriers our members face in accessing care.
  • We will collaborate with leaders in our communities across New Jersey who drive social justice and equality.
  • We will promote equity, inclusion, awareness and understanding to confront racism, hate and discrimination.

In May, Horizon documented the company’s progress on bringing Our Pledge to life. Some of the updates we shared included the expansion of the Horizon Neighbors in Health program, the COVID-19 vaccine collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Health and the $5 million in grants directed to organizations supporting people of color and addressing health disparities.

Here are six more ways we have since put words into action:

  1. Invested in a minority-owned venture capital fund focused on early-stage health care companies founded by women as well as Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Targeted investments make it possible to create a more diverse pool of health care companies.
  2. Captured provider race and ethnicity information through our provider self-service tool to give members more options when selecting a doctor. Making this information available to members helps them connect with health care providers who are right for them.
  3. Connected more than 5,000 members to community resources for food/clothing, care coordination and rental and utility payment assistance through the Neighbors in Health Program. Taking care of the most vulnerable in our community.
  4. Established an endowed Horizon Scholarship at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine as part of The Horizon Foundation’s Kids’ Oral Health Program. The scholarships focus on supporting individuals from historically underrepresented backgrounds to build a pipeline of diverse dental providers in New Jersey.
  5. Implemented an employee recruitment change to ease mandatory degree requirements for select positions. This effort is aimed at enhancing Horizon’s workforce diversity through a focus on talents and skills, rather than looking predominantly at college degrees.
  6. Administered 1,651 COVID-19 vaccines in 19 clinic events in Newark to date; with eight more COVID-19 clinics planned. By hosting events like these, Horizon aims to remove obstacles to make it easier for members of the community to get the vaccine.

“We are holding ourselves accountable to make impactful and lasting change. We know that talking about change is insufficient and that actionable steps are required,” said Harper “Everyone deserves equal access to health care, and it takes meaningful actions to eliminate the barriers – and gross disparities in care – that persons of color still face every day. The words of Our Pledge reflect our commitment to effect change as we continue to stand against racism, discrimination and hate.”