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Workplace Inclusion Starts with Employee Inclusion

Employee Inclusion

November 24, 2021

We all have a role to play in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within our organizations and communities. At Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, we remain committed to being at the forefront of inclusivity in the workplace and have developed a number of initiatives to ensure every voice is included, heard and valued. Wellmark’s commitment to inclusion has been recognized locally and nationally since 2009.

Engaging Employees

Inclusion and equity can only be achieved through an engaged and invested workforce who feels as though their voices are being heard and represented. As a result, Wellmark created the Inclusion Council in 2006 to create space for a cross section of employees to share ideas and create change. The Inclusion Council promotes employee engagement to develop an inclusive, trusting and healthy work environment and culture. Another way Wellmark chose to engage additional employees was through the creation of the Very Inclusive Person (VIP) network that allows even more employees to be involved in making a difference, improving collaboration, inclusion and effectiveness.

Employee Recognition

Knowing how much of an impact even one employee can have on a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts, Wellmark created the Inclusion Ambassador Award in 2013. The award — since renamed the John D. Forsyth Inclusion Ambassador Award in celebration of John D. Forsyth’s career of inclusive leadership — honors and celebrates those who advocate for and embody Wellmark’s core values of integrity, caring and inclusion.

This year, Wellmark is proud to recognize Ike Brown, data center and recovery team leader, as the 2021 John D. Forsyth Inclusion Ambassador Award recipient.

Ike is known throughout Greater Des Moines (DSM) as someone who exemplifies servant leadership in everything he does. Nominated by a peer, Ike was described as having a unique ability to deliver difficult conversations in a positive, constructive and inclusive manner. An influential figure for Wellmark’s Inclusion Council, Ike and a coworker developed a virtual internal workshop in 2020 providing education and real-world examples of systemic racism and the importance of inclusion at work and in the community. Wellmark quickly recognized the value this workshop offers and provides support for additional DEI presentations throughout the year.

Continued Development

As Ike shared during the award nomination process, when it comes to DEI “the bottom line is that we can’t spectate; we need to participate and be the change we desire to see.”

Inclusion starts by listening to all voices within an organization and ensuring they are heard, valued and acted upon. Workplace programs are no longer an off-the-shelf solution and must be customized to properly represent the culture and makeup of the unique workforce. But once you’ve begun to widen the net, include all employee voices and empower them with the tools to succeed, there’s no telling what amazing things can happen right inside the walls of your company.

Wellmark, Inc. does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., and Wellmark Value Health Plan, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., and Wellmark Value Health Plan, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.

Telisha Stellick

Telisha Stellick leads efforts to enhance Wellmark's diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for its employees, providers and members, in addition to advancing health equity in communities across Iowa and South Dakota. As Wellmark's director of diversity, equity, inclusion and health equity, she brings over 19 years of experience.