Recently our podcast had Femily as a guest on 52 Weeks of Health Equity. This is a blogitized version of that transcript.
Edited by Emma Rodriguez
Why is the importance of amplifying traditionally marginalized voices so needed to address health access and equity?
Femily emphasizes the need for diverse voices in thought leadership and the challenges of getting those voices heard on their podcast with us.
Including how the establishment often chooses traditional thought leaders, leaving out those with different perspectives.
Femily shared her pride in seeing individuals from her incubator program gain visibility and become thought leaders in their respective fields. They also touch on the importance of collecting data that is representative of all communities, rather than relying on general results that may overshadow specific issues faced by marginalized groups. Overall, the conversation highlights the significance of promoting equity and inclusivity by giving a voice to those who have been traditionally underrepresented especially if we want to achieve health equity.
I'm Silicone Valley's gender and inclusion advisor, and I help healthcare companies as well. I help ensure their healthcare plans are inclusive, and I achieve this by being aware of the social determinants of healthcare. I run an incubator called Future Thought Leader, where marginalized people can get their voices out. We can never fix all of the problems that are going on in healthcare if we are not hearing from all the voices experiencing the worst of our broken systems.
It's an important issue to talk about because as you mentioned, many of these voices tend to sit in certain spaces, and aren't properly amplified. It is great that you've taken your access to platforms and privilege and shared it, not many leaders in those spaces do that.
One thinks that those already chosen by the establishment should be our thought leaders, regardless of industry. We're attempting a different perspective than what is already out there. We give the tools to the people in the program that want to go forward.
How do we get those voices out there? When we think about equity, we're talking about promoting voices that don't have equity at the moment. Are there any people in your programs who ended up on those thought leader platforms?
What first came to mind was how I went into these healthcare companies. The companies focused on "patient experience" which was a simple survey, but they did not splice that data. A general average may feel respected by our doctors, but for example, a queer person may not. It is essential to splice the data correctly so that you can lift the voices who are lost in general averages.
Many times we see these surveys or focus groups run by people who don't represent, or even look like the community. A colleague told me about surveying and recognizing they were serving a black community, but she was the only black person involved in the project. Then you wonder how it may impact your results. You may not hear some voices because they're afraid to share with someone they don't trust. For example, the Black community can lack trust in the healthcare system. Not basing work on the right data and a lack of representation can lead to issues such as an increased mortality rate.
My friend, Dr. Bedford Palmer, created a center called Deeper Than Color. It's grown fast because of the immense need for therapists of color. I use that as an example of when my clients are taking initiative, and fixing issues they see in their communities.
Let's take a deep dive into what it looks like to be inclusive. You have mentioned barriers before. What do you think are the biggest barriers that prevent people from speaking their truth about thought leadership, or discussing healthcare issues?
What stops people from being thought leaders? There are many ways the world tells you, "You're not meant to be on this stage. Your story is not the one that looks like the people on the front cover". The thing that stops people is that they don't feel represented, or welcomed, by most of these major outlets.
Soon more diverse thoughts will be made available. Generation Z is the most diverse generation, and they are open to many different concepts surrounding gender and sexuality. We can't lean onto what used to be normative practice.
Do you know what is challenging? Getting people's voices out there in more ways. I tell my participants to do something that'll move the needle, in any amount, towards change, even if it is a small grassroots organization.
In what ways can listeners actively engage in something?
You can start close to home. There are local problems where you can subside the issue with simple actions, such as handing out feminine hygiene products to someone experiencing homelessness. You can pick something that really energizes you. It does not have to be big or push you out of your comfort zone, but small acts can go a huge way. I'm more of an introvert, so I can find things like making graphic designs for organizations that do not have that in-house. It is something within my means and comfort zone and can make a major impact on a local organization.
I'm glad you mentioned comfort zone because many introverts don't want to do the active volunteer piece. Small grassroots organizations could be in need of services like that, but it is rarely thought about. I love those small, in your comfort zone, ways to make change.
To hear the complete episode, please listen and subscribe where ever you get your podcasts or by clicking our page's podcast tab.
Femily on The Go
Femily's main page
Reach out to Femily on her Instagram
The American Association of Corporate Gender Strategists
Femily is a founder
Deeper Than Color
(Read more about Dr. Bedford Palmer's organization)
The invisibility of marginalized people in data
(Read more about ways to end this issue)