UnitedHealthcare Community & State is investing in diversity, equity and inclusion at every level. From creating equity in business and health plan operations to removing unconscious bias, we are instilling a culture where every employee feels they can bring their genuine selves to work.
In the nearly three years since we developed our national Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Council to meaningfully advance our organization toward a more inclusive future, we have implemented local councils in many of our health plan markets. These local councils were created to have the flexibility to tailor their initiatives and goals to address local needs.
Local Councils Help People See Through the Same Lens
Local councils consider the differences in various geographies and how that impacts people’s lives. Each local UnitedHealthcare DE&I workgroup is also able to utilize local connections and make a relevant plan for their particular community.
Since local councils are sensitive to their own culture and what approaches are normalized, people feel more comfortable and have an easier time being authentic. This is especially important when someone may not feel comfortable talking about specific topics or have a different perspective.
The local councils have also created an inclusive environment for learning. When people feel safer, they are often more likely to speak up or ask questions.
Local Efforts Tie to Organizational Goals
We’ve shared our curriculum with local councils to give them some ideas about how to develop their own plan. The local council may do some of the same initiatives or something completely different. Some of the areas that other local councils have focused on have been professional development, educational events and town halls designed around specific topics.
In Virginia, we created an action plan with specific learning tracks, audiences and timing. One area of specific focus has been unconscious bias where we’ve facilitated leader, staff and small group training.
We are also continuing to educate, promote and celebrate various other aspects of DE&I such as inclusion, doing strengths analysis and tying into reoccurring events such as Black History Month or Women’s History Month.
We’ve also revitalized our employee experience committee and employees are meeting weekly to come up with new ideas, create content and contribute. Local councils can stay flexible as long as the plan fits the unique needs of that community and is aligned with UnitedHealthcare’s goals of creating a more inclusive future.
Change in Perspective
There are many changes happening already. Employees have learned how to embrace change and think in a new way. People are learning to be their authentic selves and how to use their voice.
I hear from employees all the time who tell me that the DE&I efforts have changed them. People are learning how to have courageous conversations about DE&I in the workforce.
Some employees are continuing the learning with additional education by sharing book lists, articles and other information. Others are talking about what they’ve learned with their families and loved ones. One senior leader started a conversation about the history of particular words that have inflammatory meanings and how that knowledge can be used to improve language choices.
As the local councils carry on their work we will continue to grow as an organization and our partnership with the community will be strengthened by diversity and inclusiveness.