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Creating a Lasting Impact on Health Inequities

Promoting diverse thinking and a community mindset with Global Pro Bono 

Formed in 2015, the 3M/Pyxera Global partnership grew from a pilot program to a cutting-edge leadership development experience that builds employee, community, and entrepreneurial resilience around the globe. Over 200 employees have gone through the 3M Impact experience—contributing 24,000 hours to 60 host organizations in 15 countries. 

The Challenge

In 2020, the plight of healthcare inequities wasn’t a new idea, but the global pandemic and the increase in social unrest re-exposed the depth of inadequacies within health systems and health services. Communities of color were getting COVID-19 and had a morbidity rate much higher than any other community. 3M Health Care leadership team asked how as a healthcare business within 3M they could contribute meaningfully to address the healthcare disparities that were once again highlighted by the pandemic and work towards health equity.   

Our Approach

To help improve community health outcomes, Pyxera Global co-launched the 3M Impact Health Care project, one of the many initiatives in the 3M Impact portfolio, and garnered support from organizations at the forefront of contributing to health equity in Minnesota, including: American Heart Association, Apple Tree Dental, Face to Face, and Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers. Employees worked on projects ranging from educating the public on heart disease to addressing the decline of youth in the health care system to strengthening public emergency health responses. 

“The culturally conscious work really gave me a framework on how to tackle my own biases and how to change my perspective.” 

Participating Employee, 3M 

The Outcome

The 3M Health Care team leveraged the 3M Impact Health Care program to build sustained relationships with community-based organizations.  Learning from their experience from the 3M Impact Health Care program, the 3M Health Care team worked with a coalition of dental organizations in Minnesota called “Get to Yes”.  3M Health Care team helped the Get to Yes coalition with their expertise and skills that enabled the coalition to secure $120M in state and federal funding and expanding critical dental care access in Minnesota by 15-20% for the Medicaid population. 

Through this partnership, 3M Health Care is building deeper relationships with the communities it serves. Immersed in the complexities faced by communities, 3M Health Care employees are gaining a deeper awareness of culture, race, and their place in it. 

Employees increased their personal self-awareness of systems of power, race, and privilege, creating more culturally conscious leaders who can more easily understand how developing cultural competence creates a more meaningful work environment and society. Participants were tasked to reflect on how this competence contributes to an individual’s leadership style and organizational impact. Culturally Conscious Leadership is now part of the program’s DNA, as this pilot is being integrated into 3M’s global portfolio. 

Employees were encouraged to step out of their everyday perspective to gain a clearer insight into the inequities and challenges faced by underserved communities due to their race. They learned how major forms of systemic oppression in areas such as equal access to quality education, food, jobs, and more are just a few of the social determinants of health. 

Individuals originally self-assessed as uncomfortable with belief systems different from their own now report an increased sense of curiosity and comfort levels with diversity.