by Linda Jimenez

Chief Diversity Officer and VP Diversity & Inclusion
WellPoint, Inc.

On May 25, Oprah Winfrey aired her final show after 25 years. With tears in her eyes, she talked about finding her calling —how stepping out onto her stage every day has given her a platform to show millions of Americans that each of us has value. According to Oprah, “Everybody has a calling, and your job is to figure what that is and start doing it.”

Her words strongly resonated with me. I started to look for themes and connections that would show me my life’s purpose. And, I came to the realization that my calling is to create the energy and vision to lead positive change, which I do every day for WellPoint.

“Like Oprah, I am grateful every day that I have a platform to be able to live my life’s calling.”

As a Latina mother of three, change and adaptability are what I know best. My family lets me hone my skills in diversity and inclusion. If I ever get off track, they will help me keep it real.

What has propelled me into my career is a strong sense of self, a desire to lead change and a passion for diversity and inclusion. It’s not a position for the faint of heart. As a chief diversity officer, you must be prepared for a high-profile and often politically-charged role. I believe that success for a chief diversity officer lies in the following attributes.

Mastery of diversity issues. An influential chief diversity officer should be a change agent with the energy and courage to fight for fairness and equity and challenge that which is unjust.

Political savvy. A chief diversity officer must be particularly astute at navigating the corporate culture and responding well to politically charged or politically sensitive situations. An influential chief diversity officer also must have the strength to stand up and be heard.

A common and compelling vision. You must also be committed to working with others to build a common vision and strategic direction with regard to diversity and inclusion.

Experience leading organizational change. You should understand organizational change and be able to lead large-scale change initiatives.

Strong interpersonal relationships. You must possess a high degree of emotional intelligence and charisma and be a good communicator.

Results orientation. You must be able to show how diversity is an integral component to the success of an organization’s mission and commitment to excellence.

Continuous learning. You have to continuously raise the bar on your own personal performance.

In my own role, I encourage WellPoint leadership and associates to value individual differences and support a culture beyond that of tolerance—one of awareness, respect and understanding. I believe diversity of thought and opinion in a multigenerational workforce contributes to more understanding of the opportunities and issues before us. This understanding contributes to better decision making and, ultimately, a competitive advantage.

Like Oprah, I am grateful every day that I have a platform to be able to live my life’s calling. My energy and vision come from the respect, trust and validation I receive every day from my peers, my colleagues and my leadership team, as well as the energy and passion I sustain by knowing I am making a difference in the lives of others.

This article has been sponsored by:
WellPoint, Inc.

Linda Jimenez

Linda Jimenez

Chief Diversity Officer and VP Diversity & Inclusion
WellPoint, Inc.

Linda Jimenez is a native of San Antonio, Texas, and attended the University of Texas at Austin where she received her BA with honors. She is also a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and has spent 20 years specializing in labor and employment law.