Welcoming Oversight and Accountability

Call it the elephant in the room: Even if people understand the value of a diverse and inclusive workplace, sometimes they would rather avoid talking about it. Not so at Blue Cross.

Each month, our 15-member Diversity & Inclusion Council, which includes two participants from outside the company, meets to review our progress in advancing diversity and inclusion, discuss issues that may be holding us back, and tap into associates’ perspectives through our Employee Resource Groups. The council is led by CEO Andrew Dreyfus, who has been D&I’s most visible champion both inside and outside the company.

DI-3-CEP-square-290pxFor an external perspective, the council draws on the expertise of Paul W. Lee, an attorney with Goodwin Procter LLP in Boston and chairman of the board of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, D.C., and Zoila Torres Feldman, a health management consultant and long-time champion of medically underserved individuals and families.

Paul_199x199Paul has been an advocate for workplace inclusion since beginning his legal career in the 1970s. Based on his own early experiences, he says leaders must be sensitized to any implicit biases that could affect how they view the career potential and aspirations of employees. For example, a manager who believes, even subconsciously, that Asians are hard-working but lacking in outgoing personality traits may deny an Asian employee a leadership opportunity.

Paul has participated on several other diversity councils throughout his career, and he concludes that the Blue Cross D&I Council is something special. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how open everyone is and how willing they are to talk through some important, challenging, and sensitive issues,” he says.

Jay McQuaide, senior vice president for corporate communications and citizenship at Blue Cross and a D&I Council member, believes the meetings are productive because the participants share a common goal: to build a better Blue Cross for members and associates. “When you start with that as your North Star and you come into those meetings with an open mind,” Jay explains, “what we’ve discovered is that tough conversations don’t have to be uncomfortable.”

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