This year my family participated in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s (Blue Cross NC) first on-site Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. The day was full of different service projects that benefited nonprofit partners in our community. I was so excited when I heard about this event. Sharing meaningful activities with purpose is an important lesson that my husband and I share with our children. We wanted to show Yari, 11 and King, 5 that service can make a difference in the lives of others.
I will admit this experience was very emotional for me. The first and main activity we participated in was making blankets for the children of the Ronald McDonald House. I could not imagine one of my children being sick and staying at one of the many wonderful RMH houses in the Triangle. With that in mind, each cut and stitch of that blanket was with love and extreme gratitude.
Looking back to push forward
When I first started at Blue Cross NC, my family was one of many families in NC that required resources for support, and because of that, participating on this day to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., meant more than anyone knows. I was more than thankful for the opportunity not just because of the volunteer opportunity but for the chance to reflect and share my gift with the attendee’s (more on that later).
Right after the Day of Service in January comes February which is Black History Month, and in my opinion is that it should not be acknowledged just one month of the year. Cultural awareness and inclusion are one of the top leadership traits according to Deloitte. Leaders – whether it be an employer, leader of a family, or the leader of a company – serving any demographic should take a special interest in understanding how to engage with those who may not have the same cultural background as them. This will create a strategic relationship that is more productive and unified.
I am so grateful for the opportunities Blue Cross NC provides its employees to share in and bridge gaps in cultural and personal diversity. As the Vice-Chair of Blue Cross NC’s African American & Black Employee Network, I have been able to share in developing programming specific to the cultural and business needs of my peers and the Enterprise. Through efforts and events like “My Hair Does Not Define My Intellect”, “The Magic of Black History” and the MLK Jr. Day of Service, all held on Blue Cross NC’s campus, I’ve been able to share my personal experiences with the Enterprise via my talent of spoken word poetry. For your employer to acknowledge your skills and gifts outside of the daily role you perform for the business and share that platform with you is empowering. It shows that Blue Cross NC believes I am a whole person and not just a desk filler. It shows me they share an interest in what I bring to the whole table and garners an even better productivity level from employee’s because we buy into the company.
Sharing the gift of spoken word
I am thankful for my experiences at Blue Cross NC as it relates to my culture. I know that our members, providers and employees are understanding more and more that Blue Cross NC is committed not just to Diversity but to Inclusion on a level that is both personal and professional.
Here is a bit of my poem:
Working here allows me to Live Fearless in
my skin that’s doused in melanin
be bold in my expressions of injustice
and develop my business acumen
and relentlessly execute on it daily.