Banner Biz QandA
2/3/2010, 6:47 a.m.
Joyce Beach Small is Director, Corporate Diversity at Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts (BCBSMA). She has worked at BCBSMA for the last 13 years, and has held leadership positions in various departments, including, Operations, Sales/IT and Human Resources.
At BCBSMA, Small worked in the financial services industry in various capacities. She says she believes that her strong business background, proven successes, and client interaction have all contributed to her preparedness for her role as Director of Corporate Diversity at BCBSMA.
A Boston native, Small attended English High School and went on to receive degrees in history and political science from Wellesley College.
Q: “Diversity” has become a corporate buzzword with many meanings. What is your corporate diversity policy?
A: We have an inherent commitment to support diversity and inclusion throughout the organization. We value the contributions and perspectives of all associates, customers and members of the community. When we speak of diversity, we include diversity of thought, opinion, religion, background, experience and sexual orientation, as well as the physical aspects of race, gender, age, and disability.
Q: As Director of Diversity, what do you do if you find that one department is not following the policy?
A: My first response would be to initiate an open and productive dialogue with team leadership. In most cases, a direct conversation is all that is required in order to understand their needs and concerns, and in turn, get them headed in the right direction. I would also be prepared with diversity metrics as a reference, along with an understanding of that department’s business needs and challenges.
Q: How have you handled a difficult charge of discrimination in employment, especially if it involves the issue of promotion?
A: At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, we strongly adhere to our equal employment opportunity policies. We have highly dedicated and experienced professionals working within our human resource department. The infrastructure and process that we follow, provides for diligent, sensitive and timely review of any charge of discrimination whether it relates to promotion or otherwise.
Q: To what extent are you involved in arranging for minority companies to be suppliers for BCBSMA?
A: We have a strong supplier diversity group that focuses on building mutually-beneficial business relationships with minority-owned and women-owned businesses to foster economic health in communities across the state. In my role as Director of Diversity, I partner with this department to assist them in their efforts both from an internal and external perspective.
Q: How does your department interact with community affairs?
A: The diversity groups share a common goal to support the communities we serve. We do this everyday by leveraging our resources to support a broad range of programs and services for our diverse communities.
Q: How have you been able to change attitudes within BCBSMA to make the company more responsive to diversity as an important corporate objective?
A: I like to tell people that the transformation to a diverse and inclusive workplace is a journey. Understanding, respecting and leveraging ones differences doesn’t happen overnight. You need to provide them with the education to become culturally competent, the environment to feel safe where they can explore and grow their competency, and above all — explain the benefits from a business perspective in making this transition. If these three are placed in concert, you will not only create diversity and inclusion as a corporate objective, but you will be on your way to having diversity and inclusion help drive business objectives.