story title image

Representation, identity and diversity: BlueCross families discuss their experiences

Black History Month is a time to reflect on and formally celebrate African Americans’ achievements and contributions.

It was first recognized in 1926 in the second week of February, and today, it’s celebrated in a month-long celebration with a theme designated by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. This year’s theme, “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores the historical importance of the Black family, its resilience and its aspirations.

As part of this year’s employee celebration, three BlueCross families shared inspiring personal and workplace experiences.

The Jones family

Joseph Jones and Camilla Jones are siblings who work together as client management associates out of the BlueCross Memphis office.

Joseph Jones and Camilla Jones

Not long after the siblings were initially hired in similar roles, they were both promoted.

“I will never forget that day,” said Camilla.

“That was a special day,” Joseph recalled. “The send-off from our department was so genuine. You felt the love that was saying you guys go and be great because we know you will be.”

Camilla and Joseph believe working together makes them better employees. For Joseph, “To see Camilla put her best foot forward every day motivates me to go out there and make BlueCross the best it can be.”

Joseph and Camilla went on to discuss the importance of the Black family in business.

To Camilla, “Everyone is equal, and having diversity within BlueCross is a blessing.”  

Joseph added, “You want everyone to be able to see themselves within an organization. BlueCross can do that because they have diversity, and they hire Black families.”

“Family is so important,” said Camilla. “Last year taught me just how important family is. Love your family, support your family, stand behind your family.”

The Scruggs family

Shonnie Scruggs is stepmother to Julian Scruggs and Jeremy Scruggs, and Starla Scruggs is Shonnie’s niece. 

From top left: Shonnie Scruggs, Julian Scruggs, Jeremy Scruggs, Starla Scruggs

Shonnie, a senior human resources business partner, appreciates the perspective she gains from speaking with her family about company-wide initiatives.

“It might not be something that human resources thought about, and I can take that feedback back to my team,” Shonnie said.

To Jeremy, a health promotion manager in BlueCare Tennessee, having family at the company means there’s always someone in his corner.

“It gives you the support you need to make it through the day,” Jeremy said. “I’m always grateful to have family within arm’s reach at BlueCross, and it helps our members because it makes me a better person to support them.”

Echoing Jeremy’s sentiment, Julian, an AppSolutions consultant, enjoys every opportunity to see his family members. Even if it’s not as often since the majority of BlueCross employees are currently working from home.

“We have memorable moments every time we cross paths. The Scruggs family are all characters,” Julian said.

Starla is a network manager, and for her, “The benefit of working as a family is that we get to share, celebrate and support each other with our successes. We keep each other motivated.”

Lastly, the Scruggs family spoke on how BlueCross helps their family stay resilient in difficult times.

“All of us are proud to work for BlueCross. It says something to have a family that has stayed with the company for so long,” Shonnie said.

“To have a family, a Black family, be middle class, and able to afford other avenues for your children because of your employer, it gives us and our future generations, resilience and stability.”

The Simmons Family

Latisha Simmons, a care coordinator manager, and her husband Michael Simmons, a graphic designer, consider themselves lifelong learners. By utilizing the BlueCross tuition reimbursement program, they are back in school working on another degree.

Latisha Simmons and Michael Simmons

“Having access to education has changed my life personally and professionally,” said Latisha.

“To think that there was a time when Black Americans didn’t have access to equal education really motivates me to take advantage of every educational opportunity I get.”

Michael adds, “We are first generation college students. I’m hoping that going to school has motivated some of our friends and family to do the same.”

Latisha and Michael consider BlueCross an expansion of their own family, one they’re excited to be part of.

“My hope is that BlueCross continues to be a presence in our community,” Michael said. “When I’m out and see BlueCross branding, it makes me happy and it makes me proud.”

About Katie Taylor Barnes, Communications Specialist

A photo of the authorKatie joined the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee corporate communications team in 2020. As a Chattanooga transplant, she has experience in brand journalism, social media management and employee communications.

Related Content