It is with great pride that we share the news with you announced nationally yesterday. Walden has earned the top designation of “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” in the 2020 Healthcare Equality Index from the Human Rights Foundation Campaign Foundation (HRC). Walden received a perfect score on an extensive application process that required years of work that touched every corner of our business to achieve. Walden is the only dedicated eating disorder company in the country that has earned this designation.

It is paramount to all of us at Walden that we do all we can to provide access to care for all and assure we provide a welcoming and diverse environment with equality for our employees and patients. Our goal is to meet people where they are with representation, a kind heart, and an explicitly welcoming and engaging spirit. To do so requires education, training, and assurance at every touchpoint that reinforces this mandate.

The process to reach this milestone has been led by a team of employees, a blend of individuals that are part of the LGBTQ community and allies who have been fierce advocates that we needed to be ‘better’. The process of achieving this designation took close to two years to accomplish and touched every business unit in our company. It is one thing to earn this designation and entirely another to maintain this designation. With a disproportionate number of LGBTQ+ individuals living with eating disorders and the importance of creating a truly safe space, we understand our responsibility to continue to build from where we are.

Director of Utilization Management Jessie Batchelder, LICSW, shared, “I have appreciated being part of a company that has listened to the employees and taken the time to learn from patients who have shared their experiences. We began making adjustments, and changes based on information shared years ago. Walden understands that what is right is simply good business. This ability to question and learn is what differentiates Walden. The number of committed allies has made a big difference here too”.

Emily Slager, LMHC, AVP Clinical Operations, is pleased that the hard work of many has resulted in Walden being considered a truly ‘safe’ space for individuals that are part of the LGBTQ community. “As employees, and for our patients, feeling ‘safe’ is not something we can take for granted.  We need to actively listen and learn continuously. This is why so many LGBTQ individuals are referred to Walden and seek us out. It feels good deep inside to know how much leadership cares about this.”

There is great power in what a group of committed individuals can accomplish. This milestone is one crucial step toward LGBTQ-inclusive eating disorder treatment but certainly not the last to assure we provide equality, diversity, and representation for all. This has been and will continue to be paramount here at Walden. Our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging task force will continue to build on this very positive and affirmative milestone.