Dec 17, 2020
Dr. Gjanje Smith Becomes Cigna's First CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellow

Cigna is a proud member of CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ (CEO Action), the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In these defining times, we stand together as a company to continually advance racial equality, accelerating our efforts through our new Building Equity and Equality Program and through important work with partner organizations, including CEO Action.

We are extremely proud to announce that Dr. Gjanje Smith has been selected to represent Cigna by participating in the CEO Action for Racial Equity fellowship – working alongside 500 fellows from some of the world’s leading companies and business organizations to address racial injustice at national, state and local levels.

 “The CEO Action for Racial Equity fellowship is a unique opportunity to address systemic racism, social injustice and societal well-being through public policy and corporate strategies” said Tim Wentworth, CEO, Evernorth, and member of the CEO Action Governing Committee. “Cigna’s efforts and commitment toward these goals are long-established, yet there is more work to be done, and more impactful conversations needed to effect meaningful change. Dr. Smith’s work over the next year will drive greater equality at Cigna and help lead our efforts at furthering racial equality efforts in the communities we serve.”

In this one-year, full-time fellowship, Dr. Smith will work together with other fellows to identify, develop and promote scalable and sustainable public policies and corporate engagement to address societal systemic racism and social injustice, and improve societal well-being.

“This fellowship provides a tremendous opportunity to advance racial equity through public policy, and I believe that policy level changes can have significant impact on reducing health disparities,” said Dr. Smith. “This fellowship is perfectly aligned with what I consider my purpose of making a sustainable and meaningful impact in health equity and the diversification of the health care workforce. I am truly honored to have been selected for this incredible program.”

Here are three things to know about Dr. Smith:

1. She is a medical director of urology supporting Cigna’s clinical performance and quality team. She has more than 16 years of professional and medical experience, and is working to do her part to reduce health disparities while increasing the diversity of health care employees. Born and raised in Liberia, Dr. Smith has extensive local and global experience shaping policies that impact population health. For example, she was a founding member of Liberians Against Ebola and helped ship 10,000 pounds of supplies to hospitals and communities in need during the Ebola virus outbreak.

2. Smith credits Cigna leaders with encouraging her to apply for this opportunity, and cheering for her along the way. Her manager brought up the opportunity during a check-in conversation, and even completed his letter of recommendation before her application was finished. Dr. Smith says, “He was more nervous than I was.” She is also a proud member of the African American/Black Enterprise Resource Group (ERG) and says that her mentor through the ERG mentoring program, EMERGE, provided valuable guidance through the interview and application process. 

3. When we asked how it feels to be selected, she said, “I am still walking on clouds. I was a ball of emotions – shocked, honored, excited, I did a silent scream.” Dr. Smith, who resides in Seattle, is most excited to meet and collaborate with others on a mission to make their work and workplaces more equitable, and she is very excited to see how she can translate her fellowship experience into her work here at Cigna.

At Cigna, our diverse backgrounds, passions and talents help us 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. To learn more, read this article that outlines Cigna’s commitment to diversity and equality.