Feb 17, 2021
Why Inclusion, Belonging and Equity are More Important than Ever

At Cigna, we know we work best when we truly accept and celebrate our differences, and feel like we belong. Inclusion and equity runs strong in our culture because, in order to best serve our customers, clients and communities, we must bring our best selves to work every day. Susan Stith, vice president of diversity, inclusion, civic affairs and the Cigna Foundation, recently delivered a keynote address at the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Virtual Summit 2021 and shared how these values play an integral role as part of Cigna’s mission to improve health equity for all. 

“Diversity and equity create space for everyone to succeed, not just internally but externally as well and that happens by understanding your community and what they need,” said Stith. “Embracing inclusion allows us to create a better world for everyone around us.” 

During her keynote, Stith discussed the powerful link between diversity, equity, inclusion and the community, which not only matter to an organization’s collective culture, they also drive individual resilience at work and at home.

 “So much of what we do inside an organization is also reflective of what we do outside an organization – how our people are engaged and working in the communities in which they live, work and play,” said Stith. “At Cigna, the strategy around diversity, equity and inclusion is not a separate thing from our business strategy but incorporated throughout our entire organization. The work that we do drives systemic, purposeful and lasting change. This work hits at the heart of Cigna’s mission too. We see ourselves very clearly as a driving force for change, not just within our industry but across society as a whole.” 

To better reach these goals, Stith discussed the creation of Cigna’s Building Equity and Equality Program. The program is a five-year initiative that expands and accelerates our efforts to support diversity, inclusion, equality and equity for communities of color, in recognition that systemic racism and discrimination are more than human rights issues -- they are health care issues that can deeply impact health, well-being and peace of mind. 

Through the Building Equity and Equality program, Cigna has taken a number of actions to better serve communities of colors and to help reduce health disparities. The most recent initiatives include: 

  • Cigna Health Improvement Tour: Cigna hit the road in late 2020 to reach more communities with the Health Improvement Tour, providing free flu shots, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19 resources. The tour was part of Cigna’s S.A.F.E. campaign, which highlights four simple actions to keep each other healthy, safe and limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellow: Gjanje Smith, medical director, urology, was recently named Cigna’s first CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellow, and will work alongside 500 fellows from other leading companies as part of a year-long fellowship. That work will include identifying, developing and promoting scalable and sustainable public policies and corporate engagement to address societal systemic racism and social injustice, and to help improve societal well-being. 

“We will continue to adapt, evolve and adopt whenever and wherever we have to because this work does not stop. This is not a moment, it’s a movement,” said Stith.

Watch the keynote address that Stith delivered at the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Virtual Summit 2021: