Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Celebrates Diversity with Month-Long Learning Sessions
“You never understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
This is a quote from Atticus Finch in the movie and book “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It speaks to the necessity for learning, considering other viewpoints and experiences, not making assumptions about a person and pausing to understand that person’s story.
At BCBSM, we promote a culture of inclusion that lays a foundation for doing those things. We call it the path to cultural competency. Every employee has their own story, which brings diversity to our workplace. Our workplace supports those diverse stories and provides an opportunity for every employee to be who they are and contribute to our work community.
Additionally, throughout the year, employees have the opportunity to engage in learning sessions and community volunteer activities to learn about various cultures and communities. As part of those sessions and activities, employees are encouraged to share their stories and to hear others’ stories. That’s when you climb into another person’s skin and walk around in it. That’s when you begin to expand your perspective.
During the month of August, we put the exclamation on our activities and programs with Celebrate Diversity! More than 30 learning sessions and activities are held to engage employees with rich history and cultural experiences. The month kicked off with the decorating of a “Diversity Tree.” Employees decorated paper hands representing aspects of their cultural and personal experiences. These hands symbolize how the diversity of who we are can bring us all together.
Some of this year’s Celebrate Diversity! topics include:
- Traveling Tuskegee Airmen exhibit
- Native American dance performance
- An Asian-American panel discussion
- Holocaust survivor presentation
- Black History 101 Mobile Museum
- Leader Dogs for the Blind presentation
- Series of Lunch with TED events covering women in the military, time management and autism, among others
Attending these various learning sessions and cultural experiences can be a lot of fun; however, the learning reaches beyond the fun and influences our culture. It’s amazing how much we learn by engaging in dialogue with one another and deepening our understanding of various cultures and communities.
In some ways, we begin to erase, little by little, unconscious biases that determine how we interact with or make judgments about other people. Those interactions or judgments are often based on what the media tells us or what we hear. Sometimes these biases do not respect a person’s story or how their diversity can contribute to the whole.
These learning sessions open the door to asking questions and being able to adapt to differences. It fosters respect in the workplace and for our health plan customers. It helps us to be able to provide the best in customer experience and appropriately adapt to differences in cultural and community needs.