CFOs discussed three priority areas for their role in health equity:
• Aligning investments with health equity goals: Eighty-five percent of surveyed CFOs said they were prepared to align investments with their organizations’ health equity objectives. Interviewed CFOs discussed the importance of funding to scale up efforts meaningfully. In the words of one finance leader, “We’ve got all these great awards for programs, and we have made a real difference but now the question is making these programs available at scale, and we have spent a lot of time talking to each other, helping each other carry out initiatives, but you really have to see how you can touch more people. That’s my biggest priority right now.”
• Improving diversity and inclusion in the finance workforce: Eighty-five percent of CFOs said they were prepared to improve diversity and inclusion in the finance function’s workforce. Some key efforts include increasing diversity within finance management ranks to match the organization’s overall workforce and ensuring they are recruiting a more diverse talent pool. The trend toward virtual-first is an opportunity to attract more diverse candidates, according to the interviewed CFOs.
• Compliance and reporting of health equity initiatives: Interviewed leaders consider their foremost function as data, analytics, and reporting stewards for all initiatives, including health equity. They discussed ensuring oversight and focusing on compliance and risk mitigation through regular board reporting. In addition, many said they were creating and reporting appropriate metrics to measure the performance and impact of health equity initiatives. For instance, one CFO mentioned maintaining and reporting on measures such as patient engagement scores and physician engagement scores for patient cohorts by race/ethnicity, which had never been done before.
As business models evolve, finance leaders are broadening their responsibilities as strategic enablers
Many interviewed finance leaders noted that though their role has been changing to a more strategic one for several years to help their organizations navigate key strategic priorities, they expect that evolution to accelerate due to the pandemic. They said the traditional role of finance—reporting monthly, quarterly, and annual performance—was no longer their main focus. They discussed how they created a strong team focused on controllership and the “backward view” aspects of finance, freeing CFOs’ time for forward-looking and strategic activities.