What makes a sustainability leader? Meet our social and community champions, Walgreens Boots Alliance

The award was presented at a glittering ceremony in London back in March

At the onset of the global pandemic in 2020, it became apparent that Black and Hispanic communities in North America were disproportionately affected by Covid-19, and vaccine take-up rates were lower.

Click here for more information on the edie Awards 2023. 

 US pharmacy chain Walgreens – part of international pharmacy group Walgreens Boots Alliance – was well positioned to help by providing health care at the heart of local communities. The business rose to the occasion by implementing Covid-19 testing and vaccination at stores and offsite, while working to ensure they were administered equitably.

Walgreens started a ‘vaccine equity initiative’ to bring vaccines directly to communities disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. In launching the ‘This is Our Shot’ campaign, Walgreens worked to gather a strategic mix of national and local engagement, surrounding hesitant communities with accurate messaging.

The team created partnerships to reach underserved populations and overcome healthcare barriers, and enlisted entertainment superstar John Legend as a key spokesperson. To demonstrate the importance of Covid-19vaccinations, Legend sat down for a virtual chat with a Walgreens pharmacist to talk about getting his vaccine.

Aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the campaign aimed to promote good health and well-being, quality education around the vaccine and reduce inequalities.

Walgreens hosted a roundtable with BlackDoctor.org and COMPLEX, where pharmacists, doctors, community leaders and celebrities addressed vaccine hesitancy. The organisation elevated the voices of its extensive network of Black and Hispanic pharmacists as leaders in combating the Covid-19 pandemic by disseminating accurate information. In the pharmacy, at vaccination events and with media, pharmacists answered questions and stressed the importance of vaccines.

Walgreens implemented more than 1,300 off-site clinics – mass vaccination events – in churches, schools, and community centres in medically underserved areas. More than 202,000 vaccinations were administered at these events.

Walgreens believes its vaccine equity work – particularly its mass marketing campaigns with a public service message about the vaccines – has contributed to a major shift in perception around the vaccine. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, vaccine rates in September 2021 were similar between white, black and Hispanic adults, with black and Hispanic people both closing a previous gap in vaccination rates with their white counterparts. This indicates that hesitancy about the vaccine has fallen in these groups.

The initiative has helped to galvanise Walgreens’ parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance’s (WBA) commitment to health equity. Through numerous long-term partnerships with organisations which deliver lifesaving vaccines, life-changing vitamins and other health services to vulnerable populations around the globe, WBA has long supported health equity initiatives.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for additional, targeted focus on the issue in the company’s largest markets. This is aligned with its existing health-centred corporate responsibility strategy and its purpose to help people live healthier and happier lives.

Walgreens is dedicating additional resources to health equity and will continue to expand its commitment to and initiatives in health equity, via vaccine equity and more. One example is prenatal nutritional programmes which target black women who face some of the highest rates of death during childbirth, with a focus on comorbidity research and more.

edie’s judges said: “This was a shining example of a programme which engages stakeholders and delivers a real impact among difficult-to-reach communities. The project was exceptionally executed, focusing on the core business function and delivering true impact at scale.”

Are you our next winner?

Now in its 16th year, the world’s largest sustainable business awards scheme – formerly known as the Sustainability Leaders Awards – continues to champion bold and brilliant climate leadership. From the most ambitious net-zero carbon programmes through to cutting-edge green innovations; from impactful climate partnerships and social sustainability initiatives to the heroes on the ground who are driving positive change.

The edie Awards are hosted during our flagship Business Leadership Month, offering a unique opportunity to have your sustainability achievements recognised and admired by thousands of businesses and climate experts. Winning an edie Award empowers teams, inspires stakeholders and accelerates sustainable business growth.

Entries for the awards are NOW OPEN and the deadline for entries is 14 October. The winners will then be revealed at a ceremony in London on 30 March 2023. Click here for full details and to enter. 


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