3 min read

Building a culture of inclusivity through allyship

By Cathey Law on 7/9/21 3:06 PM

June 2021 was a meaningful month for inclusion. We celebrated Pride Month with our LGBTQ+ colleagues and this year, Juneteenth became a national holiday. As I reflect on the past month, I’m encouraged by the progress Signify Health has made to become a more inclusive company by helping colleagues across the company become stronger, more committed and understanding allies.

Allyship is a powerful concept. A common definition of an ally is: Someone who is willing to take action in support of another person, in order to remove external barriers that impede that person from contributing their skills and talents in the workplace or community.

Being an ally takes more than noticing an injustice or declaring your allyship -- it calls us to take action. True allyship is about personal exploration and development to see the humanity in all people. It is about connecting with the person, not reacting to a stereotype. True allyship is:

  • A lifelong process of building relationships based on respect, trust, consistency and accountability with marginalized individuals and groups of people.
  • Being culturally curious by seeking to understand and appreciate different cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles. 
  • Purposefully building meaningful and collaborative relationships with our colleagues and community members who have different cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles.
  • An opportunity to grow and learn about ourselves, while building confidence in others and championing their abilities and achievements.
  • Embracing differences and, at times, being comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. 

A year ago, I accepted the responsibility of leading the company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts. It’s been a year of sparking change, nurturing organizational transformation and building a network of diversity and inclusion allies. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, even in a virtual, pandemic work environment. For example, this past year we:

  • Activated three Employee Resource Groups and we’re continuing to identify others to build.
  • Held frequent, virtual diversity and inclusion learning sessions and training workshops to help our colleagues understand the complexity of the issue and become aware of how their behavior may, unknowingly, contribute to the situation through unconscious bias and microaggressions. 
  • Hosted month-long virtual culture celebrations, where we immersed our colleagues in the art, flavors, beliefs and lifestyles of the many diverse cultures within Signify Health. 
  • Provided a consistent cadence of communications with all employees to help keep diversity, equity and inclusion top-of-mind.
  • Shared “Real People, Real Stories” from employees on their personal perspectives on Ramadan, immigrating to the U.S., and living with progressive hearing loss.
  • Held conversations on the impact of racism on mental health, disparities in maternal health, and inequities in healthcare for Black Americans.

As a result, I’ve seen many of my colleagues take meaningful steps on their journey to become stronger allies. We’ve shared many emotional moments when smart, caring people realized their unconscious bias or microaggressive behavior. And, each of these colleagues -- from all functions and levels of the company -- valued this awareness and deeper understanding of their past behavior. As a result, they’ve asked others to challenge their unconscious bias behaviors, because a single training session, no matter how impactful, will not create sustainable change. Constant awareness and consistent action are necessary and our team has shown they are willing to make that commitment. 

I am proud that Inclusion is one of Signify Health’s core values, and how our leaders are embracing allyship. We have a steadily growing momentum as colleagues support and champion one another and continue learning how to be better allies. We are only just beginning our journey, but our team is tenacious and buoyed by the significant progress we have already made in such a short time. I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together next.

Cathey Law is Senior Director, HPBP and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program Director at Signify Health.