As Michigan’s largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
One of the ways Blue Cross approaches important causes and events is a literal and physical spotlight that shows off what the company believes in as a whole. For more than 30 years, Blue Cross has used these light displays to demonstrate support of community initiatives.
For example, Blue Cross’s headquarters are illuminated each February for American Heart Month and in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. More recently, this special light display went to work to support Pride Month, a nationwide human rights campaign that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights and equity.
The Blue Cross GM Renaissance Center towers displayed the colors of the rainbow during Motor City Pride, a weekend-long event in Detroit that honors and supports the LGBTQ community. At the same time, the AF Group in Lansing, a Blue Cross subsidiary, also displayed a rainbow for the Michigan Pride March, Rally and Festival in Lansing.
To successfully attract workers of every age, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity and keep them, companies have to keep up. According to Bridget Hurd, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Blue Cross has 10 Employee Resource Networks (ERNs) that brings employees together, create awareness of different communities and increase the cultural competency of its workforce.
“We work from a knowledge base that is built on understanding and appreciating many different cultures,” says Hurd. “Every one of us is unique. And when BCBSM employees openly share their skills, preferences and experiences they bring to the table, the company is stronger because of it.”
In fact, Blue Cross started this Equally Blue Employee Resource Network in 2010, which is comprised of more than 270 members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies.
“We know that when employees are better informed and knowledgeable, they serve our diverse members better,” says Hurd, who notes that the better, more informed level of service translates to much higher levels of satisfaction from employees, vendors, customers and community.
The 2010 U.S. census data shows that 21,782 same-sex couples call Michigan home, according to a report released by the Williams Institute earlier this year.
The report says on average, same-sex couples make up 5.6 out of every 1,000 households in Michigan. The top five counties and cities that were home to the most same-sex couples in the state are: Washtenaw, Ingham, Allegan, Kalamazoo and Kent; Pleasant Ridge, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Ypsilanti and Royal Oak.
Motor City Pride
With Detroit’s growing and more open Millennial workforce and concentration of its educational institutions, the city has a more organic knowledge base. For some, it’s been ingrained in the community. For others, it’s a learning process.
More than 40 percent of LGBTQ youth live in communities that do not accept them, and studies reporter between 15 to 43 percent of LGBTQ people have experienced some sort of discrimination or harassment in the workplace.