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The Diversity Discussion

In recent years, we’ve all heard a lot of talk about the importance of diversity in the workplace. In fact, you could say that diversity has become the buzz word of choice in corporate mission statements and core values, in many cases replacing the 1990s fascination with “excellence” – and the myriad ways that word was defined. Clearly, the corporate world devotes a lot of energy to fostering diversity among its ranks and an equal amount of energy to communicating the diversity message to the public.

What isn’t discussed very often, though, is the question of why: Why is diversity so important in business?

Sure, building a diverse work force is the fair thing to do, providing all job applicants with an equal chance at being hired. But that’s only part of the equation; beyond fairness, diversity just makes good business sense.

It’s important that we step back and appreciate the many forms diversity may take: race, gender identity, thought, opinion, belief, life and professional experience, nationality and others. Each individual employee of a company can represent several of these classifications – just as a company’s customers can. And that’s where we find the answer to why diversity is so important in business: A diverse employee population is better able to relate to consumers.

Diversity at BCBSNC

A commitment to diversity is especially important at a health insurance company, where it’s crucial for customers – and potential customers – to feel that the company truly understands their needs and interests. People want to know that the health care industry places equal emphasis on health and care. Of course all businesses want people to know they care, but maybe that’s a little less vital at a company that makes toasters or lawn fertilizer.

As a health insurer, we a central role in North Carolina’s communities and in the lives of our customers. To serve our state with professionalism and compassion, we must have a deep understanding of what matters to the people of our state – which requires us to build a work force that mirrors and shares the values of all who live in North Carolina.

Equality NC and the Business Equality Council in North Carolina

We recently joined Equality NC in launching the Business Equality Council in North Carolina, an initiative aimed at promoting diversity among the state’s businesses. That’s just one our company’s efforts to further workplace diversity, which is central to our culture of inclusiveness and acceptance.

The staff of our company can join a number of employee network groups organized around shared interests, backgrounds and perspectives, with each group hosting events, activities and projects geared toward their specific focus. Our employee networks also draw supporters and allies of various employee groups, e.g., Hispanics and bilinguals, parents and parents of children with disabilities, the LGBT community, veterans, women, minorities, young professionals and members of the Boomer generation.

These employee networks provide the company with valuable insights into the issues that affect our employees – and by extension, the issues that affect all North Carolinians. These are the perspectives we bring to the Business Equality Council.

To learn more about Equality NC’s Business Equality Council, visit http://equalitync.org/business/.

[Top image: Shutterstock]

Chris Privett

About Chris Privett

Chris Privett is a communications specialist at BCBSNC, assisting the company’s leaders with speeches and presentations. Chris has a particular interest in sharing stories about BCBSNC’s role as a committed partner in North Carolina’s communities. His communications career began in 1990 in television news, later transitioning to public relations roles in nonprofits.

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