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Why BlueCross is recognized as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality”

Each person at BlueCross — and their unique background — is valuable. And our employees know their stories and perspectives are respected when they come to work. 

They also know understanding our differences helps us improve the health of the members and communities we serve.

There’s new evidence of our commitment to inclusion: BlueCross earned a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index survey. This perfect score earned us designation a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.”

BlueCross HRC CEI 2019“The Corporate Equality Index survey results follow our recognition earlier this year as Forbes’ no. 3 employer nationwide for diversity,” says Ron Harris, vice president of diversity and inclusion at BlueCross. “These rankings are the result of years of intentional effort — efforts that will continue. At BlueCross, we have created an inclusive environment where every employee is valued and respected, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identification or any other factor.”

“We strongly believe that we better serve our members when we reflect everyone we serve.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) annually determines the survey score on a points-based system:

  • Up to 30 for Workforce Protections (company policy in place relating to sexual orientation and gender identity)
  • Up to 30 for Inclusive Benefits (equivalent spousal and domestic partner benefits, and equal health coverage for transgender individuals)
  • Up to 40 for Supporting an Inclusive Culture and Corporate Social Responsibility (ensuring at least three LGBTQ ​training/best practices sessions within a calendar year, an employee diversity group or council in place, and at least three distinct outreach/engagement efforts to the broader LGBTQ Community)

Our perfect score in 2019 is an improvement over our 2018 score of 95%, and it shows how we continue to prioritize the work of inclusion and cultural competency.

What our recognition means to our LGBTQ employees

This recognition from the HRC represents more than just another achievement showing our evolution as a mature diversity and inclusion employer. For many of our employees, it resonates on a very personal level.

“This score means that as a member of TeamBlue, I’m safe,” says Robert Thomas, a customer deliverables contract specialist in our membership administration department. “It also means that the little piece of me that is part of the LGBTQ community is just that — a little piece. My sexuality does not completely define who I am or limit my contributions in the workplace.”

When Robert joined BlueCross five years ago, he was unaware of our focus on cultural competency. A Detroit native who’s been partnered for 15 years, he was a little hesitant to move south. Relocating first to Atlanta for another company then to Chattanooga, he experienced what turned out to be a welcome surprise.

BlueCross Robert Thomas
Robert Thomas, customer deliverables contract specialist

“At BlueCross, no one looked at me sideways,” he says. “I came in and could be myself.  I liken my experiences here to being on a college campus. You have your classes and your requirements, which would be your actual job, but then you can get involved in so many extracurricular activities.”

Robert himself has taken advantage of our job shadowing and mentoring program and attended unconscious bias and generational diversity training sessions in our Chattanooga office. He was even invited to present at this year’s Black History Month celebration, relaying how he’s a byproduct of the Great Migration.

“Here I am, an educated, young, black, gay male, sharing my story with all who wanted to listen,” Robert says. “BlueCross provided me that opportunity, and I appreciate that.”

How we’re helping our people understand one another – and our members

Being intentionally diverse and inclusive allows us to create a workforce that’s a reflection of the individuals we serve. Just like Robert, each person has a background and a story – and our employees bring their work and life experiences to make BlueCross the best it can be for our members.

The educational opportunities offered to employees have helped BlueCross earn recognition from Forbes and the HRC, but as Robert says, they’re really about connecting our employees — and allowing us to better serve our members.

“BlueCross supports the idea that through education, we understand our differences, and we’re more comfortable around each other,” he says.

“Even though we may not necessarily always agree, we can at least all agree on the need to respect another person’s point of view or way of life.”

Our 100% score and “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” designation from the HRC demonstrate the level of respect among our employees — respect that will allow us to keep evolving and better represent all of our members here in Tennessee.

“BlueCross as a culture believes in everyone having a seat at the table,” Ron says.  “This is an achievement that belongs to all of us.”

About Jesse Thompson, Principal Communications Specialist

A photo of the authorJesse joined the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee corporate communications team in 2017. A Chattanooga native, he has more than 15 years’ experience in content creation, management, and strategy for consumer audiences, including a six-year stint in health care marketing.

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