Earlier this month, employees were invited to celebrate the virtual launch of Mass General Brigham’s first system-wide employee resource group (ERG), Black Excellence @ Mass General Brigham. The group provides a new affirming space for Black employees to create a community of support to encourage the welcoming, success, and advancement of Black employees at Mass General Brigham.

The Feb. 3 kickoff event launched the ERG and also celebrated Black History month by honoring "Firsts" accomplishments by Blacks in Massachusetts’ healthcare. The event also featured the singing of the Black National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Dani Monroe, MSOD, senior vice president and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer of Mass General Brigham, discussed the phrase “Black excellence” and how it highlights the accomplishments of Black people, reflects on hardship and racism, and is a testament to the resilience of succeeding in a society with so many barriers. Monroe noted that when she started at Mass General Brigham, the organization was still struggling with the term “diversity,” and now the organization is actively striving to be anti-racist.

The first part of the program featured a number of speakers across the system. Anne Klibanski, MD, president and CEO of Mass General Brigham, also shared some background on ERGs—which first emerged in American companies in the 1960s—and are an important tool for guiding the workforce, especially because they allow voices that need to be heard to speak to one another and to be heard more broadly.

O'Neil Britton, MD, chief medical officer and senior vice president of Mass General, and the executive sponsor for the ERG history of the group, also spoke, sharing what it stands for and engaging committed people, raising cultural awareness, developing a strong infrastructure for the group, building relationships with internal and external allies, and using their expertise to support MGB’s missions of patient care, research and teaching while developing the workforce.

The five leaders of the Black Excellence Employee Resource Group, who represent a variety of roles throughout the MGB system, shared their goals for the ERG for 2021.

The second part of the program featured a fireside chat between Britton and guest speaker Wayne Budd, JD, the first Black president of the Massachusetts Bar Association. Budd recalled that he had always wanted to be a lawyer, but there were no Black lawyers in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he grew up, and he was told he might not be able to make a living as a lawyer. It was not until he later met several Black lawyers that he decided to pursue his goal. Budd’s advice to the Black Excellence ERG: “Stick to it. You can accomplish an awful lot of good, so stay with it.”

The launch event was recorded and is available for viewing online.

If you’d like to learn more or join the group, check out their Pulse page where you can register to be a member and sign up to attend future meetings they have scheduled in March.

You can also email the Black Excellence @ Mass General Brigham Employee Resource Group if you have any questions.