June 3, 2020
Like millions around the world, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is outraged at the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd by current and former members of law enforcement. Far from isolated events, these acts of violence are the direct and predictable results of the entrenched, structural racism that blights this country and the world. The systematic oppression and dehumanization of Black people and communities of color by White-dominated systems and institutions must end. And we all must act to end it.
IHI is committed to becoming an anti-racist organization. This is necessary for our mission to improve health and health care worldwide. The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black communities is another manifestation of the same structural racism that led to the deaths of Taylor, Arbery, and Floyd, and that contributes to inequities in health and health care every day. We in health care will abandon our calling and violate our oaths if we allow inequities to persist.
At IHI, we acknowledge that we will always be in a state of "becoming" anti-racist because this work requires lifelong commitment and vigilance. We have helped to perpetuate inequities by not naming them and addressing them explicitly in all of our work, and we have made missteps. This is not a project or initiative, but a cultural transformation we are seeking. We are committed to undertaking this work internally as an organization, and in our efforts to transform health care and health with partners. Frustrated and impatient with the slow pace of change, we will use our collective voice to name injustice and call others to this cause. We believe health care has an opportunity and a responsibility to name racism, make it visible with actionable data and stories, and commit to equity-advancing policies and practices.
There is incredible work going on to advance equity that we must all listen to and learn from. IHI continues to learn about how to advance equity in our work with partners. Across our work, from maternal health to global safety, we see that our goal of improving health and health care worldwide is intrinsically dependent on dismantling racism and advancing equity. We offer our partnership in this work, in the spirit of learning together.
We recognize that many of our partners are White, and we are asking you to act with love and courage. To our White colleagues, we urge you, each and every day, to:
- Share power with people of color, recognize their lived expertise and experiences, and uplift their voices
- Educate yourself about racism; understand it and start to dismantle
White supremacy culture
- Sit with the discomfort you're feeling, reflecting on your own privilege
- Acknowledge that you will never be an expert on the lived experiences of people of color, but you can always learn more by listening
- Acknowledge both the injustice of the past and the present
- Take action to help repair and heal our systems and communities by using your power in your sphere of influence to advance equity
- Understand that trust, once lost, takes time and significant effort to rebuild; commit to earning trust every day through action and changed behavior
And to our partners and leaders across the world, we urge you to commit resources to end inequities everywhere they exist. This will require bold public and private investments in ending racism, poverty, homelessness, hunger, mass incarceration, and other unjust and unacceptable conditions that affect people of color disproportionately, but not solely.
This is a time for us to show solidarity through changed actions and changed behavior. At IHI, we will act with our values of courage, love, equity, and trust at the forefront of our efforts. We look forward to your partnership.
President and CEO
Institute for Healthcare Improvement
|Ron Wyatt, MD|
Vice President and Patient Safety Officer, MCIC Vermont
Chair, IHI Equity Advisory Group