Discovering New Ways to Spur Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts

Since its inception, UnitedHealthcare’s national Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Council has been tasked with building an industry-leading, diverse and inclusive environment. When organizations undertake a massive new national effort that is not yet widely adopted, leaders can face challenges in creating, embracing and implementing new approaches at every level. However, Community & State CEO Tim Spilker has made the commitment to address the diversity, equity and inclusion impact we have both internally and externally.

It all starts with leadership and when we asked Tim to incorporate DE&I into the senior management monthly call, he put it at the top of every meeting and insisted that we include a DE&I topic in all our town halls. When the CEO demonstrates his commitment to the DE&I Council, that support makes all the difference.

Exploring new territory

The first step as a council was looking through a new lens, beyond the familiar. We wanted to provide solutions that address the needs of everyone and we found if we don't look outside of our own bubble, we will never be able to comprehend what people need to live healthier lives.

There are three workstream components to our Council: culture, management and business. The culture component ensures that we communicate diversity in everything that we do at Community & State and provide opportunities for employees to engage in areas where they are passionate. It also specifically focuses on creating an environment where employees feel valued and bring their genuine selves to work. Our primary focus has been on mentorship and sponsorship as we work to develop programs that are organic and unique, just like our colleagues.

Our management process workstream is centered around improving our policies and processes to remove unconscious bias, support anti-racism and recruit, hire and retain qualified leaders from under-represented groups. It’s important to note that the workstream strives to create and sustain an organizational infrastructure to support accountability in achieving equity goals within Community & State.

Our business workstream focuses on developing and executing a health equity business strategy, ensuring there are dedicated resources to drive health equity. It also verifies that our Request for Information and Request for Proposal commitments align with the council mission and health equity strategy.

In terms of the communications team for Community & State, I place diverse perspectives into four areas. First, we're looking inside UnitedHealthcare, making sure that we tell stories from all perspectives. It could be an employee story. It could be a network story or a provider story.

Second, it could also be a community-based organization or federally qualified health center. What might make sense at Community & State might not make sense elsewhere.

The third piece of the pie is the larger entity, UnitedHealth Group, and finally, the fourth piece is our global line of business. Health care is different for them than it is for us in the United States. Understanding that and appreciating the differences helps us operate in an optimal way at Community & State.

A new way to celebrate DE&I

We are highlighting and placing a focus on how we educate around diverse events and celebrations. For example, for the first time, we made it a priority to recognize Juneteenth. Community & State hosted a panel discussion, created an educational video and provided employees an opportunity to share how they celebrate Juneteenth. And I'm proud of what we did.

From a larger UnitedHealthcare perspective, the recognition and celebration of Juneteenth meant that we are working toward understanding that DE&I isn’t just something to check off the list, but that it needs to be represented throughout the entire organization. That is what we aimed for and achieved. We most certainly plan on continuing to celebrate Juneteenth and ensuring that diverse voices are heard and represented.

The next phase of the DE&I journey

As we continue to forge a path on the forefront of this imperative transformation, we’re always interested in new methods for building cultural diversity, equity and inclusion, so every member’s health is enriched to the fullest extent and ultimately, so they can equally experience the best quality of life possible. 

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