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Bringing your whole and best self to work is an aspirational goal for some. But for others, it’s a daunting challenge. According to a study by the Human Rights Campaign in 2014, 53 percent of the LGBTQ community concealed their sexuality at work and 35 percent lie about their personal lives.

wed2At BCBSNC, we believe diversity in business matters for North Carolina and beyond and we’re committed to providing a welcoming, diverse and inclusive workplace for all employees.  We partner with several organizations to support equality and offer an Employee Network (Spectrum) for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and their allies.

I recently chatted with Vice-Chair of Spectrum, Sheena Wilder, to learn about the impact of Spectrum and her journey at BCBSNC.

 

How did you feel when you first joined the company? 

I walked in on my first day with the hope of a career but the fear of my sexuality stunting its growth.  Everything about this company seemed to be amazing. Orientation and new hire classes were engaging, interactive, fun and informative. It was perfect, except I was horrified to tell anyone I was a lesbian.

What helped you become more at ease to be your true self?

That fear began to die when we had our first discussion about diversity in new hire training.  I saw all of the opportunities outside of my job with employees from diverse backgrounds. Our instructors gave us time to explore all of the Employee Networks, and I was amazed to find Spectrum.  There was a place for me.  There were successful, hardworking LGBTQ employees excelling and supported to make valuable contributions across the company.  I knew then that my life and career had just begun!

The next 3 years of my career seemed to be on the fast track.  I was promoted, moved departments and then promoted again. I appreciated that people noticed my work ethic and potential, not my sexuality.

How has your personal life been impacted since working here?

In 2013,  I met a co-worker and now the love of my life, Tanisha. BCBSNC’s drive for inclusion made getting married an easy decision. I did not have to worry that my future would be destroyed because of my sexuality.  I knew that my employer supported me as an employee and a person.

How exciting! What else has been going on in the last year?

pregThe last year – by far – has been the greatest! Along with getting married, my wife and I purchased a home. I’ve also recently been promoted again; another opportunity because of who I am, not who I love.

Out of all of the things that BCBSNC has helped my family and I accomplish, the thing that makes my heart smile even greater is the insurance coverage.  We are now expecting a baby girl in August and do not have to worry about health coverage.  Knowing that I work for a company who respects and supports my family inside and outside of its walls is an irreplaceable feeling.

I’m so grateful to work for a company that made it safe and easy to be me.  I feared being unsuccessful, but working for this company has given me confidence about who I am, and the endless possibilities of who I will be.  I love this company and what it represents for the LGBTQ community.  I’m blessed beyond measure. The best days of my life have been during my tenure with BCBSNC, and I’m so happy being me.

 

BCBSNC has received national recognition for its support of LGBT employees and is involved in a number of community efforts to help LGBT North Carolinians. Here are a few ways:

 

  • Recognized as Best Place to work for LBGTQ Equality in the Corporate Equality Index of the Human Rights Campaign.
  • We support organizations like Equality NC and the LGBTQ Center of Raleigh. We are also founding members of the Business Equality Council, an effort organized by Equality NC.
  • We’ve offered domestic partner benefits to our employees for more than 10 years.
  • We’ve had family coverage available for same-sex couples and all domestic partners in our ACA plans since 2014.
Lydia Freeman

About Lydia Freeman

Lydia Freeman works in Employment Brand & Communications and manages communications for Health and Wellness, Diversity and other internal teams in BCBSNC. She loves inspiring others through employees’ stories and remarkable experiences.