We're Committed to
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

See how we're improving the health and
well-being of all North Carolinians

"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."

- Blue Cross NC Executive Leadership Team 

We often hear the phrase, "everyone gets a seat at the table," when discussing the impact of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). But we know that it's more than just having a seat. Having a voice, having encouragement and having open ears around that table is crucial to feeling supported - not only in the workplace, but in your community as well. As we lead health equity efforts and conversations, we're keeping diversity, equity and inclusion at the center of everything we do. 

Blue Cross NC has made DEI an integral part of our company. Because we know improving the health and well-being of our members and our communities starts with us. Diversity, equity and inclusion is essential to the physical and mental well-being of our members and all North Carolinians. By focusing on DEI, we can improve the health equity and outcomes of not just our most underserved populations, but everyone across the state. This means more access to critical care, lower health care costs and more health care innovation.

And we aren't just joining the conversations about DEI; we're driving them.  We know we have more work to do, and we hope that you'll check in along the way to not only see the work we're doing across the state, but to hold us accountable for reaching our DEI goals.


We're committed to three main focus areas:

Talking about DEI isn't enough. We have set measurable and actionable goals, and we are committed to reaching our goals over the next five years and beyond. 

People and Culture


We've been focused on DEI for over 15 years. But our commitment deepened in 2020 during a time of intense national dialogue around racial bias and discrimination in America. And this dialogue led to taking a deeper look at our own workforce, leadership teams and the organizations we work with. To truly meet the needs of our members, we needed to make sure our workforce and leaders understood the connections between racial equity and meeting our purpose of better health care for all. 


We're doing that in three ways:

We're giving leaders the resources to better understand DEI and its value to the company and our purpose.
We're putting measurable goals in place and holding ourselves accountable to DEI at every level.
We're investing in strategic recruitment and retention strategies that help us connect with diverse talent.

Our work so far:

  • Raised our minimum wage compensation to $16 / hour
  • Launched monthly Conversations that Matter series to provide a safe space for difficult discussions
  • Partnered with the NC Governor's HBCU Program to recruit on our most talented and diverse internship groups in 2021
  • Surpassed our goal of hiring 30 women in IT in 2021
  • Engaging all people leaders in Racial Equity training
  • Adding DEI into our Talent Review process and increasing transparency on how we identify and develop our company's future leaders
  • Updated our 2021 Holiday Schedule to recognize and celebrate different religious and cultural holidays by adding a floating holiday

Our DEI goals are an integral part of our company purpose and culture

Having open and honest conversations about DEI topics isn't always easy, but it is always right. We're taking action for diversity in the conversations we have on our teams, in our meetings and in our work.

EXPAND

We've expanded our corporate panel policy to have three or more people who represent gender, racial and ethnic diversity.

ENGAGE

We're offering a monthly series of Conversations that Matter for our diverse workforce to share unique perspectives and experiences.

WORK

We're having conversations about how we can have a more open environment for employees, members and the community.

LISTEN

We're listening to our employee networks who provide feedback on the images and language we use on our campaigns.


Learn more about how we're leveraging DEI in the workplace

Workforce Demographic Statistics

Workforce Stats


Diversity stats
Gender stats

 

Leadership stats
Workforce stats

*Gender identity and sexual orientation self-report planned for 2022

Join Blue Cross NC

Blue Cross NC is always looking for diverse talent across our many organizations. 

Find Your Career

Employee Networks

Our employee groups are an important way we support diverse perspectives. And they offer a unique way for us to understand the people in these groups and their experiences. 

Our employee networks let us influence company culture, be a voice for concerns and express the viewpoints of the members. Our senior leaders rely on employee networks to shape company projects, policies and goals. 

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.

You can hover your mouse over each employee network to learn more about it.

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 in Employee 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 offer an online community where insurance industry women can connect and engage.

2020 Corporate Report

Our Corporate Report breaks down our annual work inside the company and in the community. It's the perfect snapshot of accurate and up-to-date DEI work. 

2020 Corporate Report

Join the Conversation

Create your own inclusion challenge

Creating an inclusion challenge in your workplace encourages self-reflection, discovery, accountability and commitment toward inclusion. Our 2019 Inclusion Challenge is a great starting point for you to create your own challenge. 

Challenge Your Colleagues

Health Care Equity


Access to high-quality, affordable and adequate health care is a basic human right. But for many North Carolinians, that isn't a reality.

Imagine being denied health care you need because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. Imagine facing bias in health care because of your race. Imagine receiving inadequate treatment simply because of your zip code. These health care inequities happen every day for millions of people across the state. 


Health equity goes beyond just giving people better care. Because building effective programs requires listening to the voices of those most affected, and expanding access to things like behavioral health care, maternal and infant care, and incentivizing providers for moving into rural and historically underserved communities. And we're having actionable conversations about the affordability of health care and coverage for many people across the state.

We're meeting these needs in three ways:

We're investing in data to deepen our knowledge around the health challenges members experience and to share that information across the health care system.
We're using technology and stakeholder relationships to reduce bias and racial disparities in maternal and child health care.
We're working with behavioral health providers to increase diverse representation and the number of providers in underserved communities.

"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.”

- Blue Cross NC Executive Leadership Team 


We're driving health care equity for members and communities
 

Health Care Intervention

We're working with data scientists to identify health care gaps, inequities and risks for our underserved communities.


Health Care Access

We're increasing access to health care in rural areas with help from Caravan Health1 to expand providers in rural hospitals.


Racial Disparities

We're tracking racial disparities in health care to bring awareness to and resources for our communities.


Community Impact

We're working with community leaders to make our neighborhoods healthier. Learn more about community engagement.


Mindful Communication

We're developing messaging to deliver the most impactful and relevant health care information for our diverse audiences.


More community intiatives

Our COVID-19 Investments

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

More COVID-19 Investments

Investment in Diverse Communities

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.

Blue Cross NC Foundation

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.

 

Dr. John Lumpkin describes our health care equity goals

Video Transcript

It is a pleasure to be able to talk to you today. Our externally-facing website says: “We can’t be truly healthy until racism and health disparities no longer exist.” As a company that’s committed to improving the health and well-being of our customers and communities, what has led us to this conclusion? There are unavoidable facts that underline the challenges we face to improve the health and well-being of everyone in North Carolina. When we look at all-cause mortality, the data shows that Black Americans die at a rate that is 20% higher than White Americans1. Black people in this country have a life expectancy that is five years less2. These facts have come into heightened attention as the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately killed people of color in our nation. Why are there these differences?  

Could it be something in the genetic makeup? The answer is clearly "No." The Human Genome Project of the National Institutes of Health states that race is a social construct, not a biological one3. In other words, I am more likely to have similar genetic makeup to my White neighbor next door than my Black neighbor across the street.  

Unfortunately, the social aspects of race have resulted in an unequal toll on health and life in this nation. We see these same kinds of disparities in health outcomes here in North Carolina, where Black infants are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday4, and adult Black North Carolinians with diabetes or kidney disease are two times as likely to die5.  

All of these sad statistics are reflections of the impact of racism we have in our society: the impact of centuries and decades of public policies and exposure to persistent implicit and explicit discrimination. According to the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, structural racism refers to the way that public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other social norms interact to generate and reinforce inequities among racial and ethnic groups6. This includes healthcare, housing, education, transportation, and other policies that either explicitly or implicitly resulted in discriminatory practices.  

Policies that are examples of structural racism include redlining, segregated schools, and high-interest loans. Let’s look at the results of redlining in North Carolina.  

[1936 Federal Redlining Policy: Greensboro] This is what a map looks like for Greensboro. The neighborhoods that were redlined under US Government policies in 1936 [modern map] are the same areas of Greensboro that are identified as racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty today7.  

These and other policies at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels have resulted in chronic disinvestment by government and the private sector. Disinvestment has resulted in communities of color where children are born into poverty, have limited access to quality preschool, enter kindergarten behind and stay behind the rest of their lives – living sicker and dying younger.  

Structural racism, health equity, and health disparities were part of the NCIOM Report on Healthy North Carolina 20308. The impact of policies that have been in place for decades and centuries are bad enough, but the addition of discrimination in day-to-day lives of people of color lead to the poorer health outcomes and early deaths I mentioned earlier. While the old childhood chant that “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” was an important mantra to get through childhood’s trials and tribulations, the evidence does not support this mantra. The cumulative effect of discrimination and unfair treatment has an impact on the lives and health of people of color in our nation and in our state. Discrimination in our nation exists and persists, resulting in overt and micro-aggressions which are associated with higher rates of high blood pressure, chronic illness, obesity, diabetes, lung disease, kidney and liver disease. 

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We as a nation and we in North Carolina can do better. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation defines health equity this way: That everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible9. I am proud to work at Blue Cross North Carolina, where we are taking a stand as a company to improve health equity in our home state. Our DEI Council, chaired by Dr. Tunde Sotunde, assures that all work is aligned with our diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, and with the goals all with a focus on people and culture, healthcare equity, and community. We are developing a healthcare equity index as part of our pledge to begin to address the factors that lead to poor outcomes for our members who are Black, Latino, Asian American or American Indian.  

James Baldwin, an American novelist, said in 1962: “Not everything we face can be changed, but we can change nothing unless we face it.” Today, 60 years later, I really have the feeling that we’re starting to face this issue of race in a way that moves us to a future where everyone in North Carolina has a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible. To achieve these goals, we need to lead with grit, be relentless, because we will not stop until health care is better for all.   

Sources

Get more insights from Dr. Lumpkin on health equity and the work Blue Cross NC is doing

In Health, Not All Are Equal

"People of color have historically been at a health and well-being disadvantage that cannot plausibly be explained away by genetics and heredity. This disadvantage is directly correlated to the systemic racism that underpins American society. As designed and executed, this system fails to provide, even inhibits, people of color from living a long and healthy life..."

Continue Reading

Read more from Dr. John Lumpkin

Strategic Partnerships


Our DEI efforts are only as strong as the community leaders, providers and organizations we partner with across the state. We know that we can't make measurable change alone. It will take a coalition of the willing.

We rely on the expertise, experiences and work of these partners to help us strengthen and reach our goals. Diversity, equity and inclusion takes all of us, and we're making strategic investments in our partners to improve the health and well-being of historically underserved communities in North Carolina.


Through our investments we are:

Supporting programming, provider training and education to reduce racial bias and disparities in maternal and behavioral health.
Raising awareness regarding health inequities and educating underserved communities on how to improve health outcomes.
Providing resources to organizations led by or serving people of color who know their communities strengths and greatest needs.
Contributing to the success of diverse commerce by purchasing their products and services.

Our partnerships in action

Behavioral Health RFP

We're investing in organizations across the state, especially in rural and underserved communities, that ensure access to behavioral health care and resources. 

Behavioral Health RFP

Maternal and Infant Health RFP

We're investing in organizations working to improve maternal and infant health outcomes. They could do that in a number of ways - by increasing access to pregnancy and postpartum care and education.

Maternal and Infant Health

Strengthen NC2

We're intentionally investing in organizations led by and serving people of color to align them with the resources they need to be able to focus on the greatest needs of their communities.

Learn More About Strengthen NC

Extra Miles Tour

We know that we can't address the individual needs of people across the state without having conversations with them. Our Extra Miles Tour is a listening tour that gives community leaders in all 100 North Carolina counties a voice and a place to share their positive impact and address the unique needs of the people they serve. 

Our goal is to better understand the complexities of our state and the diverse populations we serve. And to learn from the leaders working in their communities, tackling the difficult discussions, each and every day.

Extra Miles Tour

Diversifying our Agent Sales Workforce

As we expand our commitment to making health care better for all North Carolinians, we are weaving DEI into the fabric of how we partner with agents in the communities we serve. We’re investing in an insurance licensing program and scholarships at Durham Tech to diversify our incoming insurance sales workforce. And we are providing resources to our current agents to help them create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable work environment. Through this work, we’re building a system that reflects and serves the diverse people across North Carolina.

You can learn more about our commitment to diversify insurance sales.

Supplier Diversity at Blue Cross NC

Diversity at Blue Cross NC is not just for our employees. We are building a Supplier Diversity Program to make us a more innovative, competitive company while driving economic mobility and empowerment in our communities. If you are a certified minority-, women-, veteran-, service disabled-, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-, or disability-owned business enterprise, send your capabilities statement to SupplierDiversity@bcbsnc.com.

Our community work builds a healthier North Carolina

Our strategic partnerships don't stop here. Learn more about our investments and engagement with communities across the state.

Our Community Work

Policy Updates

We are continuously evaluating our coverage benefits to address health care equity in North Carolina. You can find all our recent policy updates here.

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

Image of mother and child

 

 

“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


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

Read more about DEI from our Point of Blue blog

Blue Cross NC employees standing outside
DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION: OUR WORK DOESN’T STOP!

We know racism and discrimination lead to health disparities and impact the health and safety of our employees, members and communities. Health inequity impacts all North Carolinians.

Read More

Illustration of a diverse group of people
WE CAN’T IGNORE RACISM IN HEALTHCARE

When we talk about racism, some people say, “You’re an insurance company. What does race have to do with anything?”
It’s a good question, and the answer is: a lot. 

Read More

Diverse group of blue cross nc employees
MOVING BEYOND DIVERSITY: 3 WAYS TO CHANGE BEHAVIORS TO FOSTER INCLUSION

Having been in the workforce for many years, I’ve seen an evolution that’s powerful. Things are changing. I remember being a young woman starting out in financial services, where it was intimidating to speak my voice in a way I could be heard. 

Read More

Contact Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team

 
Pam Diggs
Pam Diggs, MPH
She / Her / Hers
Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Diversity@bcbsnc.com
 
Why DEI?
“Blue Cross NC has built a strong culture for diversity for 15 years. Our challenge now is to ensure that every employee, member, and community experiences their best opportunity for optimal health, well-being and safety. #WeWontStop!”

Elliott Royal
Elliott Royal
She / They
Sr. Program Manager, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Diversity@bcbsnc.com
 
Why DEI?
"We undervalue the self-discovery and awareness needed for our common future. Diversity, equity and inclusion work is my opportunity to assist in addressing biases and gaps in our current way of life to make provisions for tomorrow.”