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Advancing gender equity starts with honest and purposeful dialogue that guides action. That is exactly what we heard at Cigna’s first-ever Global Women’s Leadership Summit this month, featuring activist and actress Holly Robinson Peete and Cigna President and CEO David Cordani. More than 3,500 Cigna colleagues from around the world gathered virtually to hear from Holly, David and other Cigna leaders on how we can create a more inclusive and supportive workplace with intention -- where everyone can succeed regardless of gender.
Here’s some of what was shared.
Leadership and Supporting Others
“When you get to the ’top floor‘ on the elevator, don’t stay up there alone. Ride the elevator back down and bring someone back up with you,” said Kristen Lauria, Cigna’s executive vice president and global chief marketing officer.
“Leadership is a journey. We all demonstrate leadership. This notion of leadership is situational. You can’t just have one tool in your toolbox. That was a huge learning for me along the way,” said Aparna Abburi, president, Cigna Medicare Advantage.
Confidence and Career Development
“Be defined by your own choices, not as a victim of circumstances. Remind yourself that you define who you are going to be by your own choices, not by who others think we should be. Go conquer the world,” said Abburi.
“Stop the head trash (that little voice in our heads that sometimes says we can’t or we’re not worthy) and choose to say yes to new opportunities. You know more and you can do more than you think. Allow yourself to learn and grow because you are worthy,” said Dusty Diekman, head of strategy execution at Evernorth.
“You have to think through your life and career– what is your destination and where do you want to be in 5-10 years? If you let your career just happen, it might not take you down the best path forward. Don’t be afraid to take horizontal moves and treat any obstacles as opportunities. At the end of the day, those experiences can be the best things that could happen to you and give you fulfillment” said Eliana Nunez, Cigna’s operations effectiveness managing director.
Self-Care and Personal Development
“Never belittle yourself to make someone feel better. Once you do that, you are no longer being your authentic self. That advice has influenced me my entire life. We all have those moments where we let others speak for us or put us down. We need to remember that we can miss opportunities if we do that,” said Rachael Orleans, operating effectiveness senior director, International Markets, Cigna.
“We were already doing it all but this year, we are just doing more than ever. It’s important to give yourself a break and understand what you’ve been through,” said Robinson Peete.
Balancing Work and Life
“There’s no such thing as perfect balance – it just doesn’t exist. People will say I’m doing it all but you simply cannot. The concept of taking care of your family, work, school, kids, and get the raise you are looking for – it’s a tall task and it’s impossible to maintain all the time. I try to take every day one at a time,” said Robinson Peete.
Our Commitment to Gender Equity
“Providing support to the talented women in our company - and ensuring that we create an environment in which they can be their best, succeed, cope, and feel valued is one of the most important things I believe we can do,” said Tim Wentworth, CEO, Evernorth.
“Increasing diversity and representation at all levels is important, but there’s more to it than that. Equitable practices and an inclusive culture are vital – where people feel they belong, are treated with respect and dignity, and feel comfortable sharing their unique perspectives and ideas. We’ve made a lot of progress, but our work is not done. We will continue to do more, and push for more,” said Stith.
Cigna has taken meaningful steps to work toward gender equity. These actions include signing on to both the Paradigm for Parity ® and the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles and developing leadership programs. All of these actions aim to increase female representation in critical leadership roles and support Cigna’s goal of reaching gender parity in director and senior director levels by 2024. In addition to Cigna's work inside the organization, Cigna is also committed to women’s success in our communities and hosts women in leadership forums for our clients and brokers.
Continuing the Dialogue