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Acknowledging Our Unconscious Bias

Article | October 2019

Acknowledging Our Unconscious Bias

In today’s world, most of us strive to bring our best selves to the places where we work, live and play every day. But how does unconscious bias impede some of those efforts before we even start our day?

Unconscious bias happens without us even being aware of it, and is directly related to our own personal experiences.1 These individual biases can hinder our ability to work together effectively. At Cigna, we feel it’s critical to address all bias – inherent or not – as we work hard to make our communities more inclusive and more welcoming.

“Diversity is not just an initiative. It is a business priority and important enabler of our company culture. Cigna's ability to bring together multiple perspectives, backgrounds, and abilities is extremely powerful. It drives innovation, helps us be more relevant and responsive to customer needs, and supports our mission of delivering high-quality, cost-effective health care services,” said Susan Stith, Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion, Civic Affairs, and the Cigna Foundation.

Cigna’s commitment can be seen in action too. Since 2017, Cigna has been a signatory to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, the largest CEO-led alliance looking to champion the business community to advance diversity and inclusion. In September, Cigna hosted CEO Action’s interactive Check Your Blind Spots mobile tour. Through a series of immersive and interactive elements, participants were exposed to the nuances of unconscious bias, and had the chance to sign the I Act On pledge to address personal biases and drive inclusive behaviors.

“When it comes to inclusion, I believe one of the best places to start is with conversation. It’s crucial to find ways to have meaningful dialogue about all facets of diversity including race, gender, backgrounds, and beliefs. When we take time to truly listen to one another, that’s when we can find common ground to move forward together,” said Stith.

This event was just one small example of how Cigna works towards a more inclusive community.

Cigna’s diversity and inclusion strategy focuses on four main areas.

Optimizing workforce composition, development, and engagement: Led by a dedicated Diversity and Inclusion team, we strive for an inclusive environment that values all aspects of diversity and creates a culture of belonging.

Differentiating the customer connection and enhancing value to clients: Our Diversity and Inclusion work goes beyond our employees to how we achieve our business mission. Award-winning work to reduce health disparities extends the lens of diversity to improving health outcomes and better enabling culturally competent care for our customers. Our employee diversity informs this work, and we leverage the strength of our diversity.

Developing culturally competent partnerships: Collaborations with diverse suppliers, professional associations, education institutions, and others help us achieve our objectives. We also provide cultural training to our network of physicians and health care providers on important topics that yield insights into better serving their diverse patients–our customers.

Creating value for emerging communities: By leveraging our collaborations and our global workforce, we work to open doors to education and opportunity in communities that have experienced systemic disadvantage. Examples include our Supplier Diversity Program and our commitment to create the next generation of diverse leaders.

“Among our stakeholders—employees, customers, partners, suppliers, and communities—there are many different cultures, beliefs, and values represented,” said Stith. “When our employees are at their best, we can better keep pace with the changing face of business, understand and meet client needs, and advance our mission for all those we serve.”

Cigna’s commitment to diversity has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the Disability Equality Index, and Best for Vets.

Cigna employee participates in CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion's Check Your Blind Spots unconscious bias tour.

1. How Does Implicit Bias Influence Behavior? Explanations and Impacts of Unconscious Bias. Very Well Mind, September 2, 2019. https://www.verywellmind.com/implicit-bias-overview-4178401

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