Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Ranked 6 in 2013 DiversityMBA 50 Out Front Companies for Diversity Leadership

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan #6

Detroit, Mich.
CEO: Daniel J. Loepp
CDE: A. Berry-Brown
More than 7,000 employees

Last year was a busy one for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s (BCBSM) diversity team. The company began recruiting from LGBT organizations and tracking LGBT suppliers; launched Blue ACTS (African Ancestry Committed to Success), a program that focuses on professional and personnel development of African-American employees; hosted four diversity learning labs for employees with topics such as “Health Disparities: Understanding Privilege” and “Generational Diversity”; and held more than 30 learning forums and events.

BCBSM also held a Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Overview Meeting at which division diversity business councils shared ideas with each other and with leaders and executive staff on their 2012 D&I initiatives. It also continued to integrate diversity progress in its performance management system through division D&I councils.

The company is proud of its efforts to more deeply embed diversity into the fiber of the company – and well it should be. While people of color make up 23.4 percent of Michigan’s population, they make up 41 percent of the company’s workforce. Similarly, while women make up almost half of the nation’s work force, they account for 73 percent of BCBSM’s employees, 51 percent of higher management, 40 percent of executive staff and 23 percent of board directors – a good place, indeed, for women to work. Employees at BCBSM speak a total of 36 languages.

Nonetheless, BCBSM is always working to strengthen and improve diversity and is currently in the process of continuing to build leadership accountability for diversity at all levels so that it becomes an integral component of its business practices; increasing ethnic diversity representation in its leadership ranks; ensuring business integration of D&I strategies as national health reform shifts the organization’s major focus to individual customers; and developing two new inclusion initiatives, for Hispanics and for people with disabilities.

“At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we are committed to ensuring a workforce as diverse as the communities we serve,” stated BCBSM President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp on the company’s website. “This assurance creates a high-performing and inclusive culture that impacts positive business results. Our goal is to encourage and support multiple perspectives and to respect the talent and input of all employees. This will prove to be our greatest strength. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is proud of its record and will continue to strive for a competitive diversity advantage, which allows us to retain our leadership position in creating a healthier Michigan.”

“Our senior leadership team has an unwavering focus on people and partnerships, which are essential to establishing, enhancing and sustaining health care value,” stated Darrell E. Middleton, executive vice president, Operations and Business Performance in Woven, in the 2012 BCBSM diversity and inclusion annual report. “We see diversity as more than just a strategy. It is a business imperative that helps us to better understand and meet the needs of our unique communities, including our workforce. Throughout our organization, we value each and every employee for who they are. Our commitment to inclusion fosters creativity and allows us to thrive as a company.”

The centerpiece of the company’s efforts is a Diversity Leadership Council – created by Loepp – that is composed of a cross-section of company leaders. The council is charged with spinning off ideas to promote diversity and inclusion.

The council also designed a company-wide diversity and inclusion survey to gauge where the company stands and to help it plan for the future. The survey measured employees’ knowledge, awareness and perceptions of diversity and inclusion. Using results from the survey, the council developed a three-year plan to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the company. The plan has four key target areas – people, culture, community and leadership. Each executive or senior vice president picked a division champion to support one or more of these areas.

The company’s Ladders Mentoring Program initially matched high-performing, diverse female employees with executives from external companies for a year of one-to-one mentoring. Participation has expanded to include women and men representing all dimensions of diversity in the workforce.

BCBSM offers a full-day workshop called “Appreciating Differences” for leaders that helps them talk to their teams about diversity and inclusion. The company also provides a half-day, interactive workshop for employees called “Valuing Our Differences” that educates employees about diversity and inclusion.

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