Impact of Leading an Employee Resource Group

I started my career at Blue Shield of California more than three years ago and am fortunate that my position in Internal Audit offers me a bird’s-eye view of the entire organization: how it operates, the business units’ interdependency, and the exposure to the different leadership teams, including the executive leaders. It's the best place to learn what we do and why.

This holistic vantage point helped me be a more effective co-chair of the Hispanic/Latino employee resource group (ERG), ¡Unidos!, because it required me to hone my interpersonal skills and strengthen my communication muscles by adapting to different speaking and listening styles.

When the ¡Unidos! co-chair leadership became available two years ago, realizing this was a perfect opportunity to contribute to Blue Shield’s mission and enhance my leadership and business acumen, I went for it! At Blue Shield we are committed to cultivating an inclusive environment, where all employees can be their authentic selves and contribute their full potential to meet the needs of our people, members, and the communities we serve.

During my tenure, ¡Unidos! has shifted from primarily being an affinity group to being more of a social activator. This means reaching out to everyone in the organization and shifting the perception of what it means to be a member and an ally. To be an ally doesn’t mean that you speak for me. It means you speak with me. And that’s a very important distinction.

What we want is an open door, to be invited in and to be provided with equitable access to leadership and training opportunities where we can innovate and bring our whole authentic selves to work daily in a safe environment that focuses on our humanity and embraces our diversity of thought, talent, skills, experience, background and culture.

As an ERG, we bring culturally competent speakers in to share how cultural tendencies manifest in our daily lives, how to take advantage of them, and how to build bridges to broaden our visual representation and impact. We participate in recruiting events, enrollment fairs, and donate extensive time and resources to community-building work. I’m very proud of our Blue Shield’s health equity initiatives, especially in the time of COVID-19, to make sure our awareness campaign materials are translated correctly, considering nuance and cultural sensitivity. 

I am supported by my managers, executive sponsor of ¡Unidos! and by Blue Shield. I love what I do, that I can be who I am, and be involved in meaningful ways that matter to me and to my community. How we lead is reflected in how we show up - at work and at home. At Blue Shield I feel safe to voice my opinion or to disagree, with the understanding that respect and treating others with dignity and grace drives all interactionsWe lead by example and this is how we elevate and amplify each other - by not speaking for me and speaking with me.