More than a decade has passed since Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO, BCBSM, established Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Diversity Leadership Council with the purpose of providing leadership, guidance and oversight of the company’s inclusion and diversity programs and practices. Our strategic objective of fostering a culture of inclusion started with accountability at the highest levels of our organization. We’ve achieved this by thinking wholistically about the meaning of diversity, creating understanding about what inclusion looks like and feels like; ultimately creating a safe environment that has continuously reinforced the key principles and by hiring and retaining diverse talent and the opportunity to engage people with diverse experiences and perspectives. Blue Cross’ IT department is only one example of our company’s dedication to inclusion and diversity. For our IT department, diversity isn’t just about age, race, sex, gender or ethnicity. Diversity, for us, includes thoughts, values, perspectives, approaches, expectations and needs. As an IT department, this broad spectrum of inclusion allows us to consider the widest range of candidates to bring onto our team.
Our IT Team Reaches Every Corner of Our Business
In many companies, the IT department is responsible for the behind-the-scenes work. But at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we understand that our IT department works regularly with employees from every department and will regularly interact with our customers. We want our IT teams to be as diverse as the communities in which we work. Our IT department went into 2021 with two primary objectives:
- To strengthen employee engagement and support increased understanding of diverse community volunteering engagement and responsibility.
- To work together to learn about different experiences and perspectives to help build an organizational culture that embraces racial equality and understands the long-term impact of racial and social injustices in our communities.
Nearly 2,600 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employees participate in our Employee Resource Network Program. These groups were created to bring together employees. To connect, share personal experiences and perspectives, learn from one another and continue to develop one’s cultural competency.
Leland Walker, Co-Champion of the IT & ACoE Diversity Employee Committee and IT Manager at BCBSM Having diversity in the workplace improves collaboration by providing team members the opportunity to explore unique perspectives and ideas based on everyone’s different personal and professional experiences. Leland Walker, an IT manager with BCBSM, reports to management on the racial equality work groups. As a manager, Leland sees how effective co-champions of the IT & ACoE Diversity Employee Committee can be when team members are open and receptive to learning. The Racial Equality work groups have been impactful in leading to promoting inclusive leadership and creating an empowered environment within the IT department. Moving forward, Leland shares that what he’s most looking forward to is engaging even more team members and seeing that BCBSM continues to provide safe spaces for people to share their stories and experiences. He feels that as we continue to learn more from one another, this is the most direct path to organizational growth.
Nearly 70 Percent of BCBSM’s Workforce Is Female
Vanietta Goines has taken an interesting path to becoming a systems analyst for Blue Cross. She majored in archaeology, but it was while volunteering for the American Red Cross during a disaster relief effort that she began to understand the critical role IT plays in gathering response information and getting this information online to various other relief agencies and hospitals. When people bring their whole self to work and are engaged, that diversity naturally increases the range and capacity of our Enterprise. We do more, better and with greater positive impact.
Vaneitta Goines, Co-Champion of the IT & ACoE Diversity Employee Committee and Systems Analyst for BCBSM Vaneitta gives credit to BCBSM’s Women in STEM events and the self-empowerment seminars that the company regularly holds for improving the overall culture of the company and for bringing to light the unique experiences that each employee brings to the conversation. These conversations, she believes, allow for each team member to better understand other coworkers from other backgrounds.
Inclusion and Diversity: Creating a Brighter Tomorrow for Our BCBSM IT Department
We see, understand and appreciate what inclusion and diversity brings to our organization. We believe that our IT department will be known throughout the industry as a shining example of what can happen when a company is truly open to the thoughts and beliefs of its team members and community. The concept of serving every community cannot be truly achieved until we reflect the communities we serve. The Blue Cross IT team will continue to educate all its members and will welcome new members from all walks of life.