Today and in the future, the key to a successful business is an engaged, purpose-driven and inclusive workforce. This means cultivating a culture that is rooted in the people having a sense of their full belonging – having acceptance of their identity, the security in knowing their voice is wanted and will be heard and the support to be their best selves in all situations. Belonging allows every person, no matter the level, to come to work, fully with authenticity and confidence, resulting in a higher level of performance and engagement.
While we remain at the shallow end of this conversation – with many still focused on defining the business case – belonging is no longer an aspirational goal but business imperative.
The experiences over the past two years from COVID-19 to social unrest and the subsequent changes to U.S. workforce – which many refer to as The Great Resignation or the Great Reshuffle – is enough to provide the business case. As corporations and business leaders, we cannot afford to go back to the place we were before. It is imperative for us to all work towards creating a culture and means for belonging.
A DEI-centric work culture – one of belonging -- creates a beacon, a marker that attracts the best and brightest talent and actively proves to each individual in the organization that they have value. Valuing diversity of identity, experience and thought allows talent to show up fully engaged and feel appreciated for their contribution.
This cannot be relegated to one function in the company or through training alone – everyone in the company has a role to play. This is a commitment to closing the gap between what is expressed as an ambition and what people experience first-hand. Employers must set up the environment for success. We need to foster a culture where this is understood by all – at the individual level and the entire ecosystem. An organization must lift the individual values, unique gifts, and talents that people bring to the organization while enabling an ecosystem that cultivates those individual gifts to grow, develop and expand the organizational capabilities to drive culturally relevant services and impact for the improved outcomes of its customers. It even starts from having inclusive onboarding processes for employees to how the organization delivers for a customer.
At Humana, where I serve as the leader of Inclusion and Diversity, we are a mission driven organization focused on our holistic, whole-person approach to health that takes into account
everything that contributes to people achieving and maintaining their best health. This guides our intentions and engagements with employees, customers, patients, and communities – helping everyone to achieve their best health and lead a healthy life. For our employees, this sets the stage for us to be more agile and informs many of our operational decisions to create a sense of purpose and belonging in our workplace and in our communities, while strengthening our talent pipeline and supplier connections.
"Valuing diversity of identity, experience and thought allows talent to show up fully engaged and feel appreciated for their contribution."
In building an inclusive and diverse organization, Humana has been a leader in workforce development and design – transforming and advancing to address the needs of our employees, members, and the community. In fact, Humana was recognized as one of the top 15 companies providing flexible working options for employees prior to the pandemic. This was possible through our investments in technology that allows our employees to work at home and enhancing our physical building spaces to encourage the sense of belonging. We’ve also invested in upskilling and reskilling our workforce. This focus on learning and growth mindset is an enabler of DEI and cultivates our culture of belonging. It’s also why we became a founding partner of OneTen, committing to a shared goal to train, hire and advance one million Black Americans into family-sustaining jobs over the next ten years. Our commitment to OneTen is one of the levers that makes up our larger Diverse Talent Strategy to recruit, hire and retain a diverse workforce and reinforces our commitment to DEI at every level of the organization.
Every single one of us has opportunity to gain in a DEI-centric work culture. Beyond your race, ethnicity, gender, ability and sexual orientation, your diverse identity upholds everything about you- where you grew up, who raised you, your siblings, your friends, what part of town you grew up in, the timeframe you grew up in, and what you experienced. This means everyone has the right and ownership to our diverse identity, and a voice in DEI.
The uniqueness of our diverse identities also adds dimensions of complication. DEI encourages us to get “uncomfortable” and consider other truths that exist and are equally valid. DEI asks that while we are different, each experience and identity is equally true, important, and deserving to be understood.
We all must do our part and make DEI matter in our organization. Let’s stretch ourselves to bring the best out of our people. Our companies and our people, inside and outside our walls, will be better for it.