Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

We can't be truly healthy until racism and health disparities no longer exist.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: It Matters to You. It Matters to Us.

We at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) recognize that everyone loses when we refuse to accept, learn about and value the differences that make our state such a dynamic patchwork of individuals and cultures.

Intense national dialogue now sheds light on the many ways discrimination and inequities lead to preventable social, economic, environmental and health outcome disparities, as they have for hundreds of years. Blue Cross NC is working diligently to further strengthen our own strong culture of diversity, equity and inclusion, and we are working across the state to build a coalition of community partners to address the systemic and structural inequities that weaken North Carolina. We cannot do this alone.

No community can truly be healthy until racism and discrimination no longer exist. We’ve taken a public stance against racism because we understand the health impact when our health care system and our communities do not value and actively embrace diversity, equity and inclusion.

Equity is woven into the fabric of our purpose: “To improve the health and well-being of our customers and communities–we won't stop until health care is better for all.” To serve every community, we have to know how to engage every community. To address our members’ unique needs, we have to work together to address our nation’s greatest challenges. We can’t serve our state without understanding how bias and oppression contribute to health disparities.

We have been on this journey for more than 15 years, and we’ve made great progress. Some of our accomplishments can be found below. Still, we, the members of the Executive Leadership Team, want to make it clear that this work is not complete. Our commitment will not slow down. It will not waiver. In fact, we will go deeper.

Our commitment is not merely a box to check or a project with a clear start and end. We pursue initiatives that promote diversity, equity and inclusion among our own people and throughout our culture. We push innovations that are building more health equity across North Carolina. We invest in and partner with historically underserved and underrepresented communities.

In this work, our words transform into action … and we won’t stop until health care is better for all.

 

Respectfully and with commitment,

Blue Cross NC Executive Leadership Team

Blue Cross NC

Executive Leadership Team​


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Important DEI Updates Affecting Our Members

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“We believe having policies that support our members living fully as their authentic selves leads to happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. This truly is whole-person care.”

- Pam Diggs, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


We are expanding coverage for treatments related to gender affirmation on eligible plans

Effective July 1, 2021, our corporate medical policy on gender affirmation surgery and hormone therapy expanded to include treatments that are medically necessary as part of an overall treatment plan for gender dysphoria, including:

  • facial surgery
  • genital and chest procedures
  • tracheal shave
  • voice lessons

Our medical policy follows the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care. WPATH standards point out that these treatments can have a much greater impact on a transgender person’s daily life than other gender-affirming surgeries.

Blue Cross NC has long recognized gender dysphoria as a serious medical condition. Since 2011, we’ve covered gender affirmation and hormone therapy for members 18 and older diagnosed with gender dysphoria who have met diagnostic indications for care.

To learn more, read our Corporate Medical Policy on Gender Affirmation Surgery and Hormone Therapy.

How do I know if my plan is eligible?

All standard Blue Cross NC plans cover gender affirmation related surgeries. But some group plans may choose not to cover these services.

Administrative Services Only (ASO) groups (of 250+) have the option to customize their plans and can choose to include or exclude some services. This opt-out applies to all gender affirmation surgeries - even those covered on our standard plans.

Groups can’t choose to cover some gender affirmation services and not others. They must cover all services related to our medical policy. You can see our medical policy here.

If you’re on a group plan, you can log into Blue Connect to see what plan type you have and check your benefits.

Blue Connect Login


 

Image of mother and child

 

"Health inequities are a threat to all of us, regardless of race or ethnicity. We're committed to finding solutions, but we can't do it alone. It’s important for the health care and business communities across our state to also take steps to find and implement solutions.​"

 

Dr. John Lumpkin, MD, MPH, VP Drivers of Health Strategy

Author, "In Health, Not All Are Equal" LinkedIn, June 30, 2020

celebration

We don't practice equity and inclusion for the recognition. We do it to:

  • Promote a vibrant culture and workplace
  • Attract the best talent
  • Be actionable through philanthropy
  • Build healthy communities, and
  • Live our mission

 

"Our hope is that you see our accomplishments and are inspired to join our diversity journey."

Fara Palumbo, Chief People Officer

 

In 2019, we released an inaugural diversity report and we're developing a Diversity Scorecard to keep us accountable.

Blue Cross NC Diversity Annual Report

Driving Health Equity and Supporting Communities Across North Carolina

We've invested almost $13M in efforts to help North Carolinians who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 ($2M generously funded by the Blue Cross NC Foundation).

We're driving health equity and investing in communities


100,000

We contributed 100,000 masks to the 1M Mask Challenge created by Atrium Health (formerly Carolinas HealthCare System). Through this effort, 700,000+ masks were distributed to the most vulnerable populations, including Latino, African American, elderly and at-risk youth groups.

1,000,000

We donated 1,000,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to communities most impacted by COVID-19.

Community Impact

Your community is also ours. We're working to make North Carolina communities better. Community and Diversity Engagement at Blue Cross NC

Mindful Communication

We are developing audience-specific messaging to deliver the most impactful and relevant content for African-American and Latino audiences, especially relating to precautions for COVID-19 and our stand against racism.  See an example campaign called, "3Ws," supporting the NC Department of Health and Human Services 3Ws: Wear, Wait, Wash

Equity Index

We are developing the first Blue Cross NC Health Care Equity Index (HEI) framework with user-centered design thinking. We're working with member and provider focus groups, and other critical community and state-wide organizations to discuss how we can incorporate DEI efforts into the index and value transformation in health care delivery.

Intervention

We are working with a data sciences firm to build a databank that helps identify gaps in health equity, map them and highlight opportunities for intervention. The data tracks how North Carolinians use preventive services, outpatient and telehealth services, maternal and neonatal outcomes, and inpatient admissions based on racial composition, socioeconomic status, and rural or urban residence by ZIP Code.

Health Equity

We are collaborating with the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force to support state-wide efforts to address health equity under the executive order of Governor Cooper.

Health Care Access

We are increasing access to health care in rural areas by collaborating with Caravan Health to expand Blue Premier to community and rural hospitals. Blue Premier is a new value-based model of care in which Blue Cross NC and the health systems will be jointly responsible for better health outcomes, exceptional patient experience and lower costs. Under value-based care, provider pay is based on quality of care, not on the quantity of procedures, tests and appointments performed. Read how this Accountable Care Organization brings  health care to North Carolinians who don’t live near a hospital.

Racial Disparities

We are tracking racial disparities in health care. Our Pharmacy Quality Team recently surveyed tribal leaders across North Carolina. Our goal is to identify educational opportunities for tribal members and their health providers and to identify resources within our company that can address tribal community health care concerns.

 

Blue Cross NC has also invested more than $2M in organizations serving diverse communities:


NC School of Science and Math

2020 Sponsorship of Step up to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics combined) academic summer program, a virtual project-based learning camp for African-American, Latino and Native American students, rising to 9th and 10th grade, to explore STEM fields and careers.

March of Dimes

Breaking Through Bias in Maternity Care, a virtual course providing insights to doctors and health care professionals to help them recognize implicit bias in maternity care settings and provides content to providers caring for women before, during and after pregnancy.

El Futuro

Mental Health Treatment Initiative for Latino families that supports improved access to higher quality care, reduced disparities in rural health care, better engagement with rural providers, improved mental health outcomes and creating a model program in a pay-for-value-based environment.

 

The Blue Cross NC Foundation

The Blue Cross NC Foundation Board approved $10M in additional funding, starting July 1, 2020, to focus on racial equity and develop a deeper understanding of structural racism.  

A healthy North Carolina is a place where everyone has a fair opportunity for good health. This belief guides our work each day and is the cornerstone of our commitment to the people and communities of our home state, whom we proudly invest in, partner with, and stand alongside.

 Blue Cross NC Foundation

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is a private, charitable foundation established as an independent entity by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in 2000.


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Tackling Diversity in Our Communication

We're taking action for diversity in communication

EXPAND

We expanded our corporate panel policy to and commit to only participating in panel discussions (three or more people) that represent gender, racial and ethnic diversity.

PROVIDE

We provided a new internal platform for our racially and ethnically diverse colleagues who may not have had a way to share their unique perspectives and experiences.

WORK

We are actively working with a variety of employees to receive ideas and discuss implementing their recommendations for employees, members and the communities we serve.

LISTEN

We are listening to diverse employee networks who serve as internal focus groups for our marketing teams and provide feedback on the images and language we use in external marketing campaigns.


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Building Diversity into Our Recruitment and Hiring Process (including Suppliers and Vendors!)

To continue attracting top, diverse talent we're upgrading our compensation strategy.

We're taking action for diversity and inclusion in recruitment and hiring

Blue Cross NC has:

  • Raised our minimum wage compensation to $16 / hour. To continue attracting top, diverse talent we focused on upgrading our compensation strategy.
  • Employed an HBCU Volunteer Action Team and internal recruiters with a Diversity and Inclusion Recruiter Certification. They will develop a hiring strategy with candidates from historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and incorporate an unconscious bias primer into our interview process. Further, we will secure commitment from our leaders to use only diverse hiring teams when interviewing for open positions.
  • Invested in early IT talent​ from the Durham Tech work-based learning program to hire students who vary in generational, gender and racial demographics for apprenticeships and internships. The program pairs a student in their last or next-to-last semester with a team in Blue Cross NC Information Technology for 16 weeks.
  • Supported the IT Leadership and Diversity Development Experience Rotation (LADDER) mentorship program to nurture and develop a culturally fluent workplace. LADDER connects minority IT leaders and IT professionals who are early in their STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) careers. The program lasts for one year and is set up as a rotational experience.
  • Updated our 2021 Holiday Schedule to recognize and celebrate different religious and cultural holidays. To better accommodate our diverse workforce, we're adding a floating holiday beyond the 10 holidays we officially observe – this is a day chosen by each employee that is meaningful and significant to them.

 

Supplier Diversity: We're taking action to ensure diversity among our vendors, too. 

We're now asking potential vendors about their health equity approach and certification during the request for proposal and information process. We are increasing the diversity of our suppliers and doing an internal audit to fully understand where we are today and to find opportunities to grow. Our Healthcare Division requires that vendors in our networks share what they're doing to address health equity.


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Diversity in Workplace Education

We're going beyond employees, to educate agents, producers and professional women in insurance.

We're taking action for diversity in education

Women in Insurance Initiative

Blue Cross NC has increased our insurance agent diversity through the Women in Insurance Initiative, encouraging and supporting women's education and professional development. We'll offer an online community where insurance industry women can connect and engage. 

Producer Summit

We have built sessions for agents and producers to discuss and engage on DEI into our annual Producer Summit for agents. In 2020, our featured speaker was Omar Johnson, Founder, OPUS United, and author of, "My Open Letter to White Corporate America."


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Workforce Stats


Diversity stats
Gender stats

 

Leadership stats
Workforce stats

*Gender identity and sexual orientation self-report planned for 2021 

Employee Networks

Growth and strength through understanding

Employee networks and affinity groups are an important way Blue Cross NC supports diverse perspectives. Our groups offer a unique way for us to tap into and understand the population of each group.

When you join an employee network, you'll be able to influence the culture of Blue Cross NC and be a voice for the concerns and viewpoints of each group. Our senior leaders get a unique perspective on company projects, policies and goals from each network. 

Our employee networks give us valuable insight into untapped market opportunities, enhance and strengthen the skills and talents of our workforce, and encourage partnerships between departments.

 

African-American Black Employee Network

TechNOW

Veterans Network

Women's Employee Network

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies Network

Young Professionals Network

Go Green

Caregivers Network

Multi-Cultural Network

For What's Next in Work and Life

Flexible Work Network

Join Our Talent Community

Diversity thrives at Blue Cross NC

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion fuels employee engagement and innovation. All of us at Blue Cross NC are working to make health care better for all, and our focus on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion helps us do that.


At Blue Cross NC, our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is embedded in our culture.

We put people first and believe that maintaining a workplace free of discrimination and harassment is a primary responsibility for everyone. Adhering to Equal Employment Opportunity principles enables our company to fully maximize the talents of all employees. 

Read our Equal Employment Opportunity policy

Pam Diggs

Contact Us

Pam Diggs, MPH
Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Diversity@bcbsnc.com

Are you ready to take action?

There are many ways you can, but we can give you 3 great ways to start:

1

Join the 21-Day Equity Challenge!

Data shows that by engaging in racial equity education daily for 21 days, more people could form lasting anti-racist behaviors and habits. By better understanding how racism is embedded in our lives we are all better positioned to see how it can be removed. We've gotten great feedback about the racial equity training required of our managers and people leaders. In 2021, this training will be required for all employees.

Our DEI resources are available to everyone. Try the 21-Day Challenge, then share it with your family and friends.

Challenge Yourself!

2

Create Your Own Inclusion Challenge

Our diversity journey is now focused on inclusion. Inclusive behaviors translate the creativity that comes from engaging our diversity into innovative solutions and ideas. Inclusion promotes the engagement, collaboration and innovation necessary for us to deliver on our mission. We created activities that encouraged self-reflection and discovery, accountability, increased curiosity in the experience of co-workers, and an increased employee commitment to support inclusion. Check out our 2019 Inclusion Challenge report then use it as a starting point to create your own challenge.

Challenge Yourself and Your Colleagues!

3

Stay Informed and Connected

Our Point of Blue newsletter takes on some serious topics, from "Why Diversity in Business Matters" to "3 Ways to Change Behaviors to Foster Inclusion" and you can visit us at facebook.com/BlueCrossNC to connect and share.

Get the Point of Blue Newsletter