“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.” –Malcolm Forbes
In a city like Philadelphia – a city rich with neighborhoods, cultures, ethnicities, and lifestyles – diversity is everywhere. But simply knowing that our neighbors or coworkers come from different backgrounds is not enough; to truly embrace and experience the real benefits of diversity in the workplace, we need to celebrate it.
Walking through the halls of the Independence Blue Cross (Independence) headquarters at 1901 Market Street is a visual example of how our company celebrates diversity. But there is so much more. Independence approaches diversity in the workplace and inclusion from all angles, from making the work environment a safe place for associates to be their whole, authentic selves to how we do business and how we impact the community. The focus is not simply on physical diversity, but creating an environment with diversity of thought.
Our Associate Resource Groups
One way Independence promotes diversity in the workplace is through our myriad of associate resource groups that allow like-minded individuals to come together in a show of support, inclusion, and empowerment. I’ve had the invigorating experience of being a part PRIDE, an associate group that works to create a safe and accepting workplace for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) associates and their allies, and to promote health and wellness in the LGBT community. As a participant and, until recently, its leader, I’ve seen firsthand how such a resource can do great things by providing access to community and wellness resources, peer support, and professional development.
PRIDE is just one of Independence’s associate groups. Other active and engaged groups include:
- IVets, also known as the Veterans’ Associate Resource Group
- The Multicultural Men’s Group
- Latinos Con Proposito
- Women of Independence
- ABLE (Associated Beyond Limited Expectations)
Diversity Programs and Training
Executive sponsors of the Associate Resource Groups as well as from Human Resources make up our Diversity Leadership Council, which champions and directs initiatives that promote the business value of diversity in the workplace.
Associates at Independence are given the opportunity to enhance their understanding of diversity and how essential diversity and inclusion are to our success in special training classes through our Independence University program.
Additionally, each October the entire company celebrates Diversity & Inclusion Week, which features a host of presentations, classes, and events that celebrate how diverse workplaces better serve our communities and organization.
Marketing Our Diversity
All that said, diversity at Independence is not just an HR initiative – it also helps drive our business strategy. In fact, our diversity statement clearly declares that “Our ability to serve our community and our performance as a company are enhanced by inviting and valuing a multitude of perspectives. Embracing diversity enables us to be more inclusive, vibrant, and innovative — which expands our reach and the possibilities we can envision for ourselves, our company, and those we serve.”
From marketing campaigns that feature members of all ethnicities and sexual orientations to thoughtful changes to our member materials — for example, our health-risk assessment questionnaire not just asking if you are “male” or “female,” but rather “How do you identify?” – we try to ensure the greater community feels included in the Independence family.
I am personally proud to be a part of an organization that truly understands, respects, and promotes the ways in which every associate, member, and community partner can play a role and make our organization stronger. The true benefits of diversity in the workplace occur when we can both celebrate our differences and unite for the greater good.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.