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CEO Daniel J. Loepp: Diversity and inclusion make our business stronger

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we’re proud to be a trusted partner to nearly 5.4 million lives across the nation. With a service area that spans from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Motown, and from California to Maine, we provide valuable assistance to members with a wide array of backgrounds, experiences and needs.

Serving a diverse membership has been a key part of our social mission for nearly 80 years —  we believe in offering quality, affordable care and access to everyone.

At Blue Cross, diversity is an imperative and one of our key beliefs. To best serve all of our members, we make it a part of our company’s mission to embrace diversity and foster inclusion throughout our company.

I recently had the opportunity to talk about this topic, one that I’m passionate about, during a gathering of the BCBSM chapter of the National Management Association, where the theme was “Diversifying the Image of Leadership.”

Diversity of our employees and senior management team ensures we reflect and serve every member and reflect our communities. Diversity of thought provides innovation and perspective. Diversity of suppliers helps us to support the places in which we live, work and play.

As a business leader, I know a diverse and inclusive environment strengthens our business performance. Personally, I’m passionate about our initiatives to share different perspectives and celebrate the differences of our employees so each of us can better serve our members through formal employee diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives to enhance supplier diversity.

But diversity isn’t just important to our business, it’s how we run our business. Our management team is diverse. More than 50% are female at the level of manager and above; Nearly 30 percent of our board is female.

Every department has diversity and inclusion goals for which they are accountable. New employees are required to complete a comprehensive cultural competency training. We provide leader training on inclusive leadership and unconscious bias to deepen leadership awareness and understanding. We’ve purposefully developed several common interest groups for employees, known here as our Employee Resource Networks. These ERNs are centered on professional development, networking and celebrating diversity across our organization of nearly 10,000 employees.

Additionally, we are proud to offer hundreds of opportunities for employees to participate in events to expand their awareness of differences and similarities in cultures and communities. In 2017, more than 5,000 employees attended a learning session.

We also track and measure our progress, hold ourselves accountable and back up our commitment to diversity and inclusion with resources.

In the last 5 years alone, we spent $1.2 billion through our supplier diversity program, working with a diverse supplier group, including Minority and Women-Owned Businesses, and we celebrate our suppliers annually at a recognition event.

The investment in supplier diversity programs directly supports economic growth in our communities.

And we are proud of the recognitions we have received. Forbes recently included BCBSM on its first-ever list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity. The list is a ranking of 250 employers across all industries in the United States.

And though awards are great reinforcement, the rewards of diversity and inclusion are why we support these policies.

Simply stated, diversity and inclusion – and supplier diversity – are good for business and make our business stronger.

Through diverse thoughts and ideas, we better serve our members.  Our diverse partnerships help us create better products and services. Working together, we make our diverse communities stronger and our residents healthier.

We have a saying at Blue Cross, and it rings true here: Together, we thrive.

Daniel J. Loepp is President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which serves nearly 5.4 million members in all 50 states.

Photo credit: Flickr

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