This year has accelerated the need for action and meaningful societal change. The global pandemic has exposed striking health disparities that disproportionately impact communities of color -- with Latino and African-Americans three times as likely to become infected with COVID-19 compared to their white neighbors.[i] Recent social unrest and racial tensions have amplified the call for greater awareness and empathy. October is Global Diversity Awareness Month, and as we reflect on the events of 2020, one fact remains clear: this is more than a moment, this is a movement.
“Diversity and inclusion is more than an initiative or a program, it is a core business priority and lives at the foundation of Cigna’s mission to deliver high-quality, cost-effective health care services,” said Susan Stith, Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, Civic Affairs and the Cigna Foundation. “We are proud to represent, respect, and empower the diversity of our customers and our workforce in everything we do.”
Advance diversity and inclusion in your community
As we reflect on Global Diversity Awareness Month, here are three principles to adopt to help advance diversity, equity and inclusion in your business or community.
- Take a clear and public stance: zero tolerance of racism or discrimination: Racism and discrimination of any kind by anyone and toward anyone is unacceptable at any level of society or business. Take an immediate clear and public stance and encourage your peers to speak up in the face of racism or discrimination.
- Challenge the status quo to accept differences and diversity: Eliminate unfair and unjust barriers for underrepresented groups. Regularly assess and examine the status quo at all levels of your business or community and proactively find areas to improve.
- Find Common ground through inclusion: Commit to ensuring people feel comfortable being themselves. Create an environment of empathy and inclusion. Schedule regular times to listen to those around you to better understand their experiences. The more we understand each other and treat each other with dignity and respect, the stronger we will be.
What Cigna is doing
Every employee at Cigna is one piece of a more powerful story. Our diverse backgrounds, passions and talents combine to create “the power of WE” in our relentless pursuit to improve the health, well-being and peace of mind of those we serve. We are taking important steps to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, and while there is more work to do, our recent focus includes the following areas:
- Building Equity and Equality: This summer, we launched the Building Equity and Equality Program, a five-year initiative to expand and accelerate our efforts to support diversity, inclusion, equality and equity for communities of color. We’ve reinforced our commitment to reduce health disparities by eliminating barriers to care and expanding our Health Equity Council, among other actions.
- Supporting Minority and Women-Owned Businesses: Cigna is teaming up with Earvin "Magic" Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer of Magic Johnson Enterprises, to combat health disparities and to support minority and women-owned small and mid-size businesses in the greater Los Angeles area. This includes customized health plans and a $3 million investment in local charitable organizations. Cigna is also on track to achieve $1 billion in diverse supplier funding by 2025 and is expanding the Supplier Mentor Protégé Program, established in 2016, to assist minority suppliers by pairing them with Cigna executives for 18 months to help participants develop strategies to strengthen and grow their businesses.
- Promoting Equity and Equality in Education and Career Advancement: Education is the path to economic prosperity for many. Cigna has partnered with Howard University and the School Superintendent Association to bolster the effectiveness of school district leadership in our nation’s urban areas. We’re also committed to fair pay and opportunity for all employees, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity – and that’s why Cigna has established has set an ambitious goal to reach gender parity among leadership within five years.
- Celebrating Diversity: Racism and bias not only impact health; they take a toll on overall well-being. We must create and inclusive and supportive environment for all employees. Since 2017, Cigna has been a signatory to CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ which is the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. Cigna has invited our 70,000+ employees to voluntarily sign a commitment to embody inclusive behavior in their professional and personal lives and now require unconscious bias training for all employees, and are planning supplemental cultural competency training for all managers.
These actions are only the beginning. To learn about Cigna’s commitment to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, click here.