This piece was sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI).
As one of the state’s largest employers, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) understands that when it comes to diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging, we can be a model and a resource for the greater Rhode Island community. It’s clear that our own diversity and commitment to inclusion helps us better serve the diverse population of Rhode Island.
Along with support from top leadership, inclusion efforts at BCBSRI are championed by our seven employee business resource groups, including Blue “pRIde,” who have done so much to create a community where the LGBTQ+ experience and perspective are respected and valued. Blue “pRIde” is committed to creating a safer, more supportive environment for members of the LGBTQ+ community – for associates, providers, and community partners, our members, and all Rhode Islanders.
Blue “pRIde” members model inclusion and respect in the way they interact with their colleagues, and the programs and initiatives they develop to raise awareness throughout the organization. The group hosts programming throughout the year dedicated to education and awareness around LGBTQ+ pertinent topics and strategies for being an effective ally.
Blue “pRIde” creates a space for employees to connect and identify ways to improve inclusivity at BCBSRI. They coordinate conversations with experts who bring their insights into our everyday work culture. Most recently, Blue “pRIde” co-hosted long-time activist Kate Monteiro to bring her fun and informative presentation, “Invisible No More: LGBTQIA+ Rhode Island Through History,” which taught BCBSRI employees about local LGBTQIA+ history in our state.
The group has also been a major force behind BCBSRI’s recent effort to encourage associates to self-identify, one step toward representing everyone in the way they want to be seen in the workplace. BCBSRI’s self-ID form includes the option to identify gender identity and sexual orientation. Alongside our senior and executive leadership teams, members of Blue “pRIde” participated in a video shared across the organization, highlighting, in their own words, why they choose to self-identify, as a means to educate and encourage associates to also self-identify within the employee portal.
“Every day when I come to work, I feel like I can be my authentic self and live openly as an employee at BCBSRI,” says Scott Gowrie, Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist.
We also recognize the importance of sharing pronouns and affirming our colleagues’ pronouns to respectfully refer to one another. Employees can add pronouns to email signatures using our branded signature tool and learn why pronouns matter and the impact they have on creating an inclusive and supportive environment.
We’re proud that these and so many other efforts have made BCBSRI a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” after scoring top marks of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for the past eight years in a row – the only Rhode Island company to have done so.
We know the work continues. While we appreciate the acknowledgment of our efforts thus far, we continue to use the CEI as a roadmap for LGBTQ inclusion, such as updating trainings to include support for LGBTQ+ employees and creating an LGBTQ+ benefits guide, which will help employees navigate benefits and policies.
As Case Manager Anna-Marie Folan says, “All of these initiatives have fostered an accepting and empowering environment and they are important reasons why I love my job!”
Mason Im is the Chair of Blue Pride EBRG at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI.