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Supporting women working in NC health insurance

Starting or rebooting a career is a challenge for anyone, but historically women have faced unique hurdles.  

When I began my career, there were few opportunities for women to break into the insurance industry. I was lucky enough to find a pathway in. My journey wasn’t always an easy road, but it’s led to an incredibly rewarding career.  

Insurance has changed a lot over the years. Today, women are much better represented across the industry. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) has been a leader in actively promoting a workforce that reflects the diversity of the state that we serve. One way we’re showing our commitment to this work is through our WomenIN Insurance program. 

This program is particularly exciting because it’s helping women agents of all ages and experience levels reach career goals. Just as importantly, it’s helping them feel more connected and find more meaning in the work they do. 

Our agents: The face of Blue Cross NC

The WomenIN program promotes a strong sense of professional community among our women agents. By creating opportunities to “motivate, educate, and elevate,” the program helps agents feel connected at the office, in their homes, and in the community. Programming doesn’t focus on product information or sales tactics, per se. Instead, it creates space for participants to unwind, recharge, and renew.  

Creating a fulfilling work environment is mission critical.  

Our agents aren’t your typical salespeople. They play an indispensable role in our work to improve access to care. They are the face of Blue Cross NC – which means, for many North Carolinians, they are the conduit into the health care system. They’re the ones families turn to when they’re exploring insurance options. Often agents are first-line resources members turn to when they have questions about their plans.  

Attendees of a Blue Cross NC WomenIN Insurance event.

To put it simply, agents are extensions of Blue Cross NC. With a more diverse agent population, everyone we serve will find a sales representative they can relate to.  

That’s important. When a household is making decisions that will impact the health of a loved one, spouse, or child, they want to work with a person they trust, and many potential members feel more at ease when the person who’s helping them is a woman.  

When the agent across the table makes you feel comfortable – makes you feel heard and understood – that makes the entry point into insurance and health care much less intimidating. 

Our WomenIN program is geared toward expanding options so that North Carolinians seeking out insurance (maybe for the first time!) or who have questions about an existing policy will be able to find the agent who makes them feel comfortable and who’s just the right person to turn to for support.   

Creating a culture of support

Times have changed a lot since I first joined Blue Cross NC in 2005. These days, our company routinely earns national recognition as a great place to work for women. In fact, women make up more than half of our total workforce – and our leadership team!  

This forward momentum hasn’t exactly translated to our agent population, where men still significantly outnumber women. WomenIN offers an excellent opportunity for those of us currently in insurance to “send the elevator down and hit the up button” to help other women grow and succeed in this business. 

WomenIN offers an array of programming and events curated to help agents get the most out of their work:  

  • Workshops 
  • Social events 
  • Community engagement opportunities 
  • Special events 
  • Mentorship offerings 
  • Motivational content 
  • Support  

These activities reach agents at every career stage. New agents get opportunities to network with seasoned professionals. Those with more experience learn from one another and get fresh perspectives from those who are just starting out. Administrative staff can explore ways to help their agency innovate and perform at peak capacity. Gatherings help agents keep track of important policy changes and new developments across the health care industry.  

Just as crucially, WomenIN supports personal growth. Everyone who participates understands that true fulfilment on the job is about more than professional success. It’s also important to value what you do and the people you work with, to develop strategies for avoiding burnout, and to feel part of a supportive network. 

Attendees of a Blue Cross NC WomenIN Insurance event. Attendees of a Blue Cross NC WomenIN Insurance event.

Tilda Hendricks has been an agent since 2012, and she’s also an enthusiastic program participant. Recently, she shared her perspective on what this program means to her. 

“WomenIN Insurance is a breath of fresh air for me ... each time I'm with this group of powerhouse women," Hendricks said. "To feel the energy of positive women coming together and empowering others with their smiles and ideas … it's priceless. It's like [I’m a member of] a ‘private group of sisters from another mother.’” 

Cultivating that kind of enthusiasm and connectedness grows the agent knowledge base and creates a strong brand loyalty. Our members are the ultimate beneficiaries of this supportive culture. 

The rewards of a career in insurance

When I was studying at Appalachian State University, I never would have imagined that a career in health insurance could be so rewarding. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. To be honest, at the time I thought that working in insurance would be dull and pointless. 

But, here I am, a few decades later, part of the Blue Cross NC leadership team. Not only have I been successful – I’ve also learned that a career in insurance isn’t stodgy and unfulfilling, as I’d once assumed.  

Every day, I’m helping to guide a not-for-profit, mission-driven company that serves every North Carolinian, not just our members. Together, our Enterprise works to make health care better for all. My work is both exciting and validating, because I know that what I do makes lives better. 

One of the most important outcomes of the WomenIN program is that it’s encouraging younger women to consider being an agent as a rewarding career choice. The work is about much more than sales: It also offers opportunities to connect with the communities we call home. You get the chance to help people who are navigating complex situations. You get to support families by ensuring they are using benefits fully.  

What could be more fulfilling in a career than that?   


 

Interested in learning more? Email WomenIN@bcbsnc.com

authors photo

Angela Boykin

Angela Boykin

CEO of the Blue Cross NC Healthy Blue Medicaid Plan

As CEO of Blue Cross NC Healthy Blue Medicaid Plan, Angela's areas of expertise include regulatory compliance, operational excellence, strategic planning and analysis, risk management, and new business development. This combination of skills helped her develop deep-rooted health insurance industry knowledge and made her uniquely qualified to lead our quest to enter North Carolina’s evolving Medicaid market.

When not at work, she enjoys volunteering at her sons’ schools, cheering from the sidelines at their baseball games, and reading 3 or 4 books at the same time. She also enjoys writing her own blog focusing on parenting kids from high school through their college years.

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