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Shared Responsibility in Shaping the Health & Wellbeing of Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has initiated the next phase of strategic planning to paint the picture of Wisconsin’s health and establish the groundwork for successful development and implementation of the State Health Improvement Plan for 2021-2026. Wisconsin DHS has convened a Steering Committee of diverse stakeholders representing many sectors such as government, coalitions, business and industry, health care, education, community, and service providers to contribute unique perspective and feedback to shape the plan for greatest impact. The Wellness Council of Wisconsin (WCWI) is grateful to be a participating stakeholder on the Steering Committee to contribute to this important work towards improving the health and wellbeing of our Wisconsin people. The cross-sector collaboration is vital to expand the understanding of health in our Wisconsin communities, especially as it relates to the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play – known as the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH).

As WCWI continues to support our employer members in designing strategies to impact the wellbeing of their workforce, the conversations and methods that have been a mainstay in the sphere of public health are becoming more and more important for employers to prioritize as well. Citing a recent article covering the topic of social ills that are affecting both public and workplace health, “public health experts have been studying for decades the role that poverty, race, environment and other external factors play in citizens’ overall health, but an increasing number of employers are seeing how social ills impact their workforce.” Social Determinants of Health affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes that are experienced by individuals, the community, and businesses. Our community and workplace environments are inseparable and the strategies that we use within the workplace must address the wider experiences and afflictions of our employees.

For further understanding on the SDOH, and applicable actions for employers to consider in the workplace, the following resources describe why this is an employer priority, the influence employers have, and strategies that have been impactful for other organizations:


Other initiatives that are recognizing employers’ and businesses’ role in impacting social, environmental, and wellbeing factors contributing to the greater good of the community:


The JUST Program is a voluntary disclosure tool for all organizations, including but not limited to: for-profit businesses; non-profits; government agencies; publicly traded companies; trade unions; educational institutions; cooperatives, and small businesses anywhere in the world. It helps your organization optimize policies that improve social equity and enhance employee engagement.


Certified B Corporation Best for the World Community Designation - the social determinants of health overlap with what Certified B Corporations promise to consider when they sign the Declaration of Interdependence and shape their business practices to build a better world.


And WCWI has been, and continues to be, a leader in facilitating collaboration between employers and communities to collectively impact wellbeing. WCWI has a rich history of uniquely supporting seven Wisconsin communities (some of them twice! And one in progress) to achieve Well City USA designation. Moving forward in 2020 and beyond, WCWI will continue to lead an employer and community collaborative effort to impact the health and wellness of Wisconsin’s workforce and communities. The next phase of projects will utilize the foundational philosophy of the collective impact framework and the process of co-creating community and employer core values for health.  

“Public health is what we, as a society, do collectively to assure the conditions in which (all) people can be healthy.” Institute of Medicine (1988)


Marissa Kalkman, MS, MCHES
Executive Director
Learn more about me.

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