Thursday, April 7, 2011

Epicurean Feast helps make a great workplace!

'It was like coming back to a different company' By Kay Phillip, Executive Assistant

'It was like coming back to a different company'  By Kay Phillip, Executive Assistant  Before returning to BCBSRI two years ago, having been away for about 15 years, I thought of "diversity in the workplace" as something for select groups of people. Honestly, I wasn't sure what I thought diversity in the workplace meant. I didn't think about diversity as being inclusive, as something that pertained to all associates. 

I am Third Order Franciscan, and as such, I wear a Tau Cross with a Corpus. I thought that I wouldn't be able to wear my Tau Cross when I returned to BCBSRI. (It wouldn't have been an easy thing to do 15 years ago.) To my delightful surprise, however, my new boss Jack Emerson told me that of course I may wear my Tau Cross. Jack told me that this is a company that embraces diversity. That's when I started seeing diversity in a whole new way. To me, "diversity in the workplace"; now meant change, difference, variation, dissimilarity—and it definitely includes all associates. That was truly a WOW! moment for me.

During my first week as a new hire, I met Brooke Havens at a Wellness Clinic. She was seeking applicants for BlueAngel Representatives. I applied right away. As a BlueAngel Rep and volunteer, I witnessed over and over BCBSRI not only embracing the differences of its associates, but encouraging associates to use all of their talents and differences to help one another and to assist our customers in every way possible.  In my view, this is one of the greatest places to work: Wellness Clinics; eight hours paid time for volunteering; a wonderful Café that serves healthy, good food and also uses and sells fresh food from local vendors; vendor days that help our local vendors, Employees' Scholarship Foundation . . . I could go on and on.

All of these things are here because our company encourages differing views, welcomes suggestions, and takes action when a beneficial program is presented.  When I heard about the Diversity Business Council, I just had to join so I could help spread the diversity message throughout BCBSRI and into the community. I'm new in this mission, but we have some veterans who have been serving in many ways for years. I'm very proud to work for a company that embraces our differences. I see, as we all do, an incredible amount of talent in this company; and embracing diversity creates a safe and welcoming working environment. This, in turn, leads to associates "being not afraid" (a quote Bill Wray often uses) to share their talents, ideas, and suggestions.  As someone who was away for 15 years, it was like coming back to a different company, and yet, the best of the old ways are still here, too. That's what's so rewarding about being part of a diverse organization! 

What does diversity mean to you?  April is Celebrate Diversity Month, a new national observance to help increase understanding of the cultures, backgrounds, and life experiences of people everywhere. The month's main goal is to open dialogues that foster an appreciation of the differences that separate us, as well as the similarities that unite us. That's why we're asking you to share your thoughts on the following:  What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?  How does embracing diversity and inclusion benefit our company?  Please send your responses and we'll publish them on InsideBlue throughout April in honor of Celebrate Diversity Month.
- From InsideBlue Celebrate Diversity Month

Congratulations to Chef Mike Mooney and his entire staff for doing such a great time serving Blue Cross!