WellPoint believes that having a team that reflects the diversity of the communities in which we live and work improves our ability to meet the health benefit needs of our consumers. Empire BCBS is one of 14 plans licensed under WellPoint and is the largest insurer in New York, covering nearly six million people. Empire’s membership includes African Americans, Hispanics, Columbians, Nigerians, Russians, Irish, Native Americans, Jews, Muslims, Asians, Hindis, and so many more.

In 2009, Empire BCBS created The Community Ambassador Program targeting three specific segments: African Americans, Hispanics and Asians. The ambassadors provide benchmarking information on cultural and ethnic health disparities and cultural health care preferences in order to understand how our benefit plans and programs can better serve their communities. Ambassadors also attend community events and are members of the Empire BCBS diversity council.

Ambassadors were selected through a formal application process. Once selected, they went through an orientation that covered Empire BCBS’s operational strategy and diversity and inclusion approach. Each Ambassador submitted an action plan that outlined events and activities planned throughout the year. The execution against the plan is monitored through monthly meetings with the team leads and other senior leaders.

The Community Ambassador Program not only highlights cultural and ethnic health disparities and preferences, it also addressed WellPoint’s commitment to create more learning and development opportunities for associates.

The Ambassador program is making an impact on New Yorkers’ health status by increasing access to key services. More importantly, the Ambassador program supports our corporate diversity and inclusion strategy through understanding health care preferences of emerging consumer markets, identifying enhancements to marketing in the multicultural marketplace, and by helping to increase revenue through strategic community relations in these cultural markets.

WellPoint believes the Empire BCBS Community Ambassador program is indeed positioned to help our company be more effective at conveying a message that resonates within our marketplace and reinforces the fact that at WellPoint, diversity and inclusion is a shared responsibility.