Diversity & Inclusion in IT: Blue Cross’ Ongoing Commitment to Employees with Disabilities
The word “diversity” conjures images of people of different ethnicities, genders and ages. But having a diverse workforce also includes employing people with disabilities, defined by a physical or mental condition that limits major life activities, including a person’s movements or senses.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proud to be a Diversity and Inclusion leader with a “people first” focus. Human Resources Business Partner Libbie Ward shares what she considers to be Blue Cross’ responsibility to create inclusive career opportunities for qualified candidates with disabilities. “We have a social mission to improve the lives and the health of the people of Michigan,” says Ward. “If we have people sitting at home who could otherwise be working, we have a responsibility to look into how we could change that.”
At Blue Cross, disabilities are not viewed as a description of who a person is. With one in five adults having a disability, great value is placed on open dialogues about common physical and mental differences and opportunities to provide support for differently-abled employees.
According to Ward, this means constantly revisiting the methods and processes used in hiring new team members. “We are thinking differently about how we recruit employees, and how we train and manage them once they’re here,” says Ward. “As we see increases in people being diagnosed with disabilities, it’s going to be even more important for the future.”
Blue Cross’ Employee Resource Networks (ERN) were created to bring together employees based on their common interests and diverse points of view. Launched in 2017, the BrightBlue Employee Resource Network focuses on growing people’s understanding of disabilities. With a membership of more than 300 employees, its mission is to promote and facilitate seamless integration into the workforce and community for individuals with differently-abled skillsets and capabilities.
The group not only thoughtfully engages current employees, but also future ones. The Blue Paths to Success college internship program partners with disability advocates in the community to attract and hire bright, young professionals with disabilities.
Ultimately, creating a productive work experience for employees with disabilities is key, which is why Blue Cross provides ongoing learning through programs like the “Disable the Label” hands-on disability awareness workshop. It offers a chance to educate employees and business leaders about the most effective ways to engage people with disabilities.
“It takes someone who thinks about communication differently, someone who is interested in taking a step back to focus on the end goal as opposed how it’s always been done and really enjoys thinking outside of the box to promote inclusivity,” says Ward. “We are fortunate to have a team committed to doing just that.”
For more about how Blue Cross is dedicated to having a diverse workforce, see these other blogs:
- Beyond the Card: A Veteran Finds His Home
- Blue Cross Receives the Distinguished Corporate Citizen Award
- Making Blue Cross Equally Blue for the LGBTQ Community
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