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Why cultural competency is imperative

Earlier this month, I joined many of our customers at the BlueCross Power of We Workforce Diversity Conference. We launched the event last year in response to questions prompted by our Forbes recognition as one of the country’s top employers for diversity.

We don’t seek out these accolades (there’s not even an application process) but we see them as a sign we’re on the right track. And we wanted to share some of what we’ve learned.

I say “the right track” because we haven’t arrived at a destination. We’re on a journey, and we still have a lot to learn ourselves. My colleague Ron Harris describes the journey in three stages:

“Diversity is organic. Inclusion is intentional. Cultural competency is imperative.” 

Some people might ask, why is cultural competency imperative?

At the conference, BlueCross CEO JD Hickey, M.D., answered by refuting a common misperception that corporate diversity efforts are just about social responsibility. We do believe every person should be valued and respected for who they are. But JD said that ultimately, focusing on this work “makes us better as an organization — better at our mission of serving our members, and serving them well.” 

JD shared two statistics that help demonstrate the point:

  • gender diverse companies are 21% more likely to outperform their competitors, and
  • ethnically diverse companies are 33% more likely to do so.

Diversity alone isn’t enough, though. Representation matters, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into building strength through differences. To do that, Ron says, you have to make sure each person has a voice and that everyone in the room understands and respects one another’s perspectives.

That part of the journey is never-ending, as our state, our membership and our workforce continue to evolve. We’re committed to listening, learning and growing — because we have to be to deliver the peace of mind you deserve. 

About Henry Smith, SVP, Ops & Chief Marketing Officer

A photo of the authorHenry oversees sales and account management, product development, group and member customer service, membership administration, claims administration, and commercial financial management.

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