InsideBlue February 2022

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A publication for the employees of the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield family of companies


Curtis Barnett

President and chief

executive officer

Curtis Barnett

President and Chief

Executive Officer

Our InBLUEsion Journey

More than a year ago, we began a journey to ensure

that our employees – all of our employees – feel

welcome, valued, and are thriving. Through focus

groups and candid conversations, we have learned

that not everyone feels that way, so we have

worked to make changes. We listened, and we

continue to listen.

This issue of InsideBlue magazine shares the steps

we have taken toward making Arkansas Blue

Cross and Blue Shield a more diverse and inclusive

company. That means providing transparency in our

hiring practices, offering a safe way for employees

to address diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

concerns, communicating about DEI and, in the

future, connecting our employees through resource

groups and mentoring programs.

Companies that value diversity and inclusion do a

much better job unlocking the talent that already

exists inside their organizations. Also, studies have

shown that organizations seeking diverse viewpoints

experience higher rates of innovation, which is

extremely important in the healthcare industry.

While this publication is mainly focused on our

internal InBLUEsion program, I want to recognize

that our commitment to equity expands beyond

our employees. We are also addressing health

disparities within our state. During the height of the

COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the lack of access to

healthcare in portions of our state and we've joined

with other organizations to address it. We can no

longer accept systemic bias in any form.

I want to thank you, our employees, for joining the

journey toward an enterprise where the playing

field is level and everyone feels that they matter.

We have made great strides in this first year, but

I know we still have a ways to go. The important

thing to me is that we are walking together.

2 InsideBlue February

Representation matters:


Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield has approximately 3,000 full-time workers.

Our employees as they identify themselves

American Indian or Alaska Native


Black or African American

Hispanic or Latino

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

Two or More Races (Not Hispanic or Latino)


Choose not to disclose










Post-War Cohort (1928- 1945)

Baby Boomers (1946 - 1965)

Generation X (1966 - 1976)

Generation Y / Millenials (1977 - 1994)

Generation Z (1995 - 2012)








114 Employees

self-identify as veterans



* At this time, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue

Shield employees do not have a way to

indicate non-binary identities in Workday.

Women employees

People with a disability


20 employees self-identify

as having a disability


Women represented in positions

of supervisor and above

February InsideBlue 3

Our first year’s milestones

In September 2020, the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Board of Directors

granted unanimous approval to launch an enterprise inclusion initiative. The

following November, a 12-member InBLUEsion Steering Committee was formed.

You can read more about the steering committee on page 8. In December,

the enterprise entered a partnership with Teleos Leadership Institute, a

global organizational development firm, and determined how to use existing

relationships with McLean & Co. and FranklinCovey.

Watch Curtis’ vlog that

introduced the initiative

Milestones 2021


Curtis introduces the initiative

through a video blog to

all employees.

Teleos provides guidance

and training to the

Steering Committee.


Steering committee members and

employees at the director level and

above attend Unconscious Bias

Training led by Mark Murphy from


Teleos conducts 23 employee

forums, 24 employee focus groups

and ten one-on-one interviews.

Almost 1,000 employees participated

in one of the sessions.

4 InsideBlue February


Teleos presents the results of

the employee group meetings,

identifying six themes and making

13 recommendations across four

focus areas. Read more on page 6.


The enterprise adopts a Diversity,

Equity and Inclusion policy.

The Office of the Ombuds is

established. Read more on page 10.

Pride Month and Juneteenth are

recognized in the InsideBlue

magazine, with two articles

featuring employee perspectives.

Curtis and Stephanie Floyd present

the results and recommendations

to all employees through a vlog

for all employees.

The InBLUEsion site launches

on InsideBlue.





The employee-led InBLUEsion

Operations Council is established.

Read more on page 9.


Members of the InBLUEsion

Operations Council attend a

training led by Teleos.

Human Resources implements

a feedback policy and process

in Workday so that internal

candidates can opt to receive

feedback from interviews.

Human Resources trains all hiring

leaders in the feedback process.


To equip managers with information

about returning employees to

the office, Enterprise Learning

& Development conducts training

that includes using empathy to

help employees process the

emotions related to changes.

The Operations Council meets

several times to develop a

calendar of observances for 2022.


Ombuds officers begin meeting with

teams throughout the enterprise to

discuss the initiative and answer

questions in small settings.

Human Resources gains approval for

the candidate application process for

2022 that will support a candidate’s

preferred pronouns.


Employees participate in an

engagement survey that includes

questions regarding inclusion

in the workplace.


Holiday décor includes a Hanukkah

menorah and a Kwanzaa kinara

and the holiday meeting uses

more inclusive language and

song selections.

InsideBlue articles about Hanukkah,

Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice/Yule

introduce employees to different

traditions and beliefs.


InsideBlue 5

Findings and recommendations

In February, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield partnered with

Teleos Leaders to host nearly fifty forums, interviews, and focus

groups that involved more than 1,000 of our employees. Teleos

analyzed the data gathered and identified six high-level themes,

then worked with the InBLUEsion Steering Committee to develop

13 recommendations and determine a path forward.


There is much to love about

working at Arkansas Blue Cross.

Our benefits and compensation and the

service we provide to our communities

are top-notch. Many employees

described co-workers as friends. Teleos

noted that not every company shares

Arkansas Blue Cross’ relational power

and that our company’s strength of

connection among people can create

the most vibrant and positive cultures.

Representation matters.

Our employees want to see people who

look like them in all areas and levels of

the company and they want to seek out

role models and mentors who can help

guide their professional development.

Longing for belonging.

Employees expressed a desire for

opportunities to learn more about others’

experiences and to connect with others

with similar identities.

Advancement opportunities.

Employees expressed a desire to

improve job descriptions, and how they

are posted and communicated, a greater

understanding of what hiring managers

are looking for from the beginning of

the search and consistency among

departments and hiring managers.

More inclusive and

transparent decision-making

and communication.

Employees asked that we involve more

people who work closer to the frontlines

sooner in the decision-making process

to get the benefit of their knowledge and

experience. Employees want consistency

among all executives, directors, or

managers to communicate information,

especially difficult and tough decisions,

in an honest and understandable

way. Finally, employees want more

information to be delivered in person

and not just over email or InsideBlue.

Process to report questions

and concerns.

Some employees shared that they want

a way to report questions and concerns

related to fairness and inclusion and a

clear process to have them addressed.

Some employees felt when they

spoke up about unfair treatment in

the past, they experienced negative


Watch Curtis’ vlog with

Stephanie Floyd about these

findings and recommendations

6 InsideBlue February

Recommendations and Action Items

Working closely with Teleos, the InBLUEsion Steering Committee identified these 13 recommendations for improvement and set

priorities for 2021 and 2022.


and Belonging

Employee Support

and Resources





In-person celebration

of InBLUEsion

Develop a calendar

of company events and

national observances

Communications plan

Establish Office of Ombuds

Establish Operations


Develop Employee

Resource Groups

Ensure integrity of job


Support greater

transparency in

recruiting process

Develop mentoring program

Reconfigure leadership

curriculum to include

inclusion, bias and empathy

Train hiring managers in

giving constructive feedback

Resume Leadership Forum

for directors and above for

teaching moments

Coaching for InBLUEsion

Representation and Belonging

The InBLUEsion Operations Council was established in 2021 and

charged with focusing on the recommendations in this section.

The in-person celebration of InBLUEsion was not implemented

to keep employees safe during pandemic conditions. The council

developed a calendar for 2022 that highlights important cultural

dates and observances reflecting our diverse population (see

page 12) and is coordinating with Corporate Marketing to share

information with employees.

Employee Support and Resources

The Office of Ombuds was created as a safe place for

employees to share concerns about inclusion.

page 10. Two employee resource groups (ERGs) will be piloted in

2022 (specific topics/demographics to be determined) and more

ERGs will be added in the future. Learn more on page 10.

Equal Opportunities

To ensure the integrity of job postings and hiring process,

Human Resources updated messaging that applicants receive

during the process and managers were trained in giving

feedback. In 2022, Enterprise Learning & Development and

Human Resources will work with Teleos to plan a mentoring

program, with the goal of implementing it in 2023.

Leadership Behavior

In August, employees with direct reports participated in training

on how to give constructive feedback. These skills can be used

in multiple settings: one-on-one meetings, post-interview

feedback and other “teaching moments.” The Leadership Forum

resumed in 2021 and took place virtually. Participants watched

a pre-recorded presentation by Stephanie Floyd, InBLUEsion

Steering Committee chair, and Fran Johnston, Ph.D., of Teleos

Leaders, updating viewers on InBLUEsion’s first year and plans

for 2022.

February InsideBlue 7

Leadership and Governance:


The InBLUEsion Steering Committee, which convened in November 2020, was charged with evaluating the current state of inclusion at

the enterprise and creating a plan to support our Inclusion Vision Statement. Committee members, appointed by Curtis Barnett and Odell

Nickelberry, include employees from all levels of the organization. The steering committee members elected Stephanie Floyd as chair.

How to contact: You can contact any steering committee member directly or send an email to InBLUEsion@arkbluecross.com.

InBLUEsion Steering Committee Members

Stephanie Floyd

Steering committee chair,

Ombuds officer, and Director of

Membership Administration

Curtis Barnett

President and Chief

Executive Officer

Alicia Berkemeyer

Executive Vice President

and Chief Health

Management Officer

Lynn Dauzat

Manager of Northeast

Regional and Retail


Gray Dillard

Executive Vice President

and Chief Operating Officer

Katie Eisenhower

Employee Communications

with Corporate Marketing

Judy Garcia

Manager of Enterprise

Information Services

Judy Lohmar

Director of Enterprise

Learning & Development

Grady McCorkle

Director of Workforce


8 InsideBlue February

Alison Melson

Vice President of

Corporate Marketing

Odell Nickelberry

Vice President and Chief

Human Resources Officer

Kathy Ryan

Executive Vice President,

Chief Administrative Officer

and Chief Information Officer

Leadership and Governance:


The InBLUEsion Council was formed in August 2021 to carry out the tasks and recommendations of the InBLUEsion strategic plan and

help our employees understand diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) through communications and activities. The 11 council members

direct our inclusion initiative at the employee level and the four ambassadors direct our inclusion initiative at the management level.

The council has subcommittees that plan activities to support holidays and observances in the 2022 InBLUEsion calendar. You can view

the calendar on page 11. If you’d like to be involved, please email InBLUEsion@arkbluecross.com. Thank you in advance!

InBLUEsion Council Members

Wanda King

Vice President of Claims and

FEP, Executive Lead, InBLUEsion

Operations Council

Murali Aggala

Manager of Enterprise

Data Management

Samantha Allen

Business Systems Analyst

for AMISYS Configuration

and Analysis IV

Tina Baggett

Network Development

Representative for

Central Region

Sherri Brewer

Manager of Clinical Services for

Enterprise Medical Management

Harry Bounds

Primary Care

Representative for

Primary Care Reps

Claudia Calderon

Supervisor of Customer Service

for Health Advantage/ASE/PSE

Customer Service Management

Stacy Cockrell

Software Administrator

for Enterprise Learning

and Development

Meredith Hicks

Project Manager for Regulatory

Compliance Programs

Karen Howard

Support Specialist Customer

Service for Southwest Regional

Operations and Customer Service

Courtney Johnson

Bookkeeper for Claims

Payments and Refunds

Bennie L. Langley

Manager in IT

Support Services

Robert Mims

IT Customer Services Technologies

Analyst lead for IT Customer Support

Core Technologies

Wade Mitchell

Enterprise Technology

Architect Senior for

Enterprise Architecture

Creshelle R. Nash, M.D.

Medical Director for Health

Equity and Public Programs

Selection Process

Gedidiah Starks

Supervisor of Customer Service

for Exchange Customer Service II

InBLUEsion Ambassadors

Angela Winston

Director of Enterprise

Customer Service

All employees were invited to apply to be considered for membership

and 11 employees were selected to serve a term of two years.

Employees who were not selected to be on the council were invited to

serve on subcommittees, helping to plan and participate in events and

developing communications. For more information about the selection

process, visit this article on InsideBlue.


InsideBlue 9

Leadership and Governance:


In June 2021, the Office of the Ombuds was established to receive, investigate and assist in resolving

complaints and potential violations of the Enterprise Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy (DEI).

The Ombuds Office is staffed by Stephanie Floyd, InBLUEsion Steering Committee chair and director

of Individual Customer Accounts.

We are still listening and I encourage you to share your

ideas and concerns. I hope you’ll consider volunteering to

serve on one of our sub-committees to expand this initiative

so that every employee feels welcome, valued and is thriving.

Stephanie Floyd

Ombuds Officer and Director

of Membership Administration

Inquiries in 2021

Since its inception, the Ombuds Office has received roughly 15 inquiries.

Two inquiries merited investigations. The others were opportunities to

have transparent and safe conversations about employees’ concerns.

InBLUEsion "Q&A Roadshow"

Stephanie, along with Wanda King, executive lead for the InBLUEsion

Council, are committed to facilitating open and respectful discussions

about InBLUEsion and want to be sure your questions are answered.

Watch InsideBlue for a recording of a short presentation that answers

frequently asked questions about InBLUEsion, then send your comments,

questions and kudos to InBLUEsion@arkbluecross.com.

10 InsideBlue February

Our second year:



The InBLUEsion Operations Concil developed this calendar. All the dates have been added to the

InsideBlue Calendar of Events. Look for articles on InsideBlue, volunteer opportunities and other

activities where you can be involved.


World Braille Day, January 4

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, January 17


Black History Month

Chinese New Year, February 1

World Day of Social Justice, February 20


Women’s History Month & International

Women’s Day, Tuesday, March 8


Autism Awareness Month

Ramadan, evening of Friday, April 1

to evening Saturday, April 30

World Autism Day, Saturday, April 2

Easter, Sunday, April 17


Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Haitian Heritage Month

Jewish American Heritage Month

National Day of Reason, Thursday, May 5


Pride Month

Juneteenth, Sunday, June 19


Eid al-Adha, evening of Saturday, July 9

to evening of Wednesday, July 13

International Nelson Mandela Day,

Monday, July 18


Women’s Equality Day, Friday, August 26


Ganesh Chaturthi, Friday, September 10

Hispanic Heritage Month, Wednesday,

September 15 – Friday, October 15

Native American Day, Sunday, September 24


National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Indigenous Peoples Day, October 10


Day of the Dead, Mexican holiday, November 1-2

Diwali, November 4

National Veterans Day, Thursday, November 11

Transgender Day of Remembrance,

Saturday, November 20

Native American Heritage Day,

Friday, November 26

Hannukah, sundown on Friday, November 28

to sundown on Monday, December 6


Human Rights Day, Friday, December 10

Christmas, Saturday, December 25

Kwanzaa, Sunday, December 26 to

Saturday, January 1

Quarterly Events

Each quarter, the InBLUEsion Operations

Council will focus on one observance with

educational articles, employee perspectives,

community connection opportunities and

more. Stay tuned to InsideBlue.

Q1 Black History Month

Q2 Pride Month

Q3 Woman's Equality

Q4 Hispanic Heritage

February InsideBlue 11

Goals for 2022

As we continue our journey together toward a more inclusive environment, here are some things we

are working toward. Check InsideBlue often for updates and opportunities for you to be involved.

• Employee Resource Groups (ERGs):

ERGs are voluntary, employee-led

groups whose aim is to be a safe space

to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace

aligned with the organizations they

serve. Two ERGs will be piloted,

starting in summer 2022.

• Mentoring program: This year,

a structured program will be

developed, with implementation

occurring in 2023. The mentoring

program will be available to

all employees.

• Inclusion awareness training:

All employees will participate

in required classes to increase

awareness and understanding

of inclusion in the workplace.

• Workday updates: Employees will

be able to identify their pronouns in

Workday. The pronouns we select

for ourselves represent our identity.

A simple way to help create an

inclusive environment is to respect

everyone’s identities by using the

pronouns they select.

By the end of 2022, all 13 recommendations (page 6) will have been addressed or started.

Celebrate the spirit of InBLUEsion:


Every employee has the opportunity and

responsibility to help create a diverse, equitable

and inclusive environment at Arkansas Blue

Cross. Now you can recognize these positive

efforts! You can send employees a “Spirit

of InBLUEsion” ecard through In$ideBlue4U

anytime during the year. This fall, you can

nominate employees for an annual award —

stay tuned to In$ideBlue4u for more information.


A publication for the employees of the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield family of companies

EDITOR: Katie Eisenhower DESIGNER: Ryan Kravitz PHOTOGRAPHERS: Chip Bayer and Cindy Momchilov

CONTRIBUTORS: Contributors: Curtis Barnett, Stephanie Floyd and Grady McCorkle



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