Commitment to diversity and inclusion
At Optum, our diverse culture empowers us to improve care for the consumers we are privileged to serve. We sat down with Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and head of employee strategies and accountability, Monique McWilliams, to find out how we’re cultivating a workplace like no other. Read more to learn her perspective.
What does an inclusive culture mean to you?
I think it’s one that’s mature enough to welcome diverse employees as their authentic selves in a way that ensures they feel welcomed, respected, valued and heard - where people feel like they belong and are allowed to fully participate in decision-making processes and development opportunities. A culture where everyone is able to contribute to company success.
How would you describe the workplace culture at Optum?
Bursting with promise! The efforts we initiated many years ago went a long way toward transforming the culture. Our renewed focus on a formalized DEI strategy with defined objectives will have the same impact. I am extremely excited to see where the future takes us.
How does Optum support individuals from underrepresented groups?
In several ways. One that comes to mind is health equity, where we address health disparities in an effort to help make the health system work better for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare for all to see how underrepresented communities desperately need access to affordable health care from professionals who respect them as human beings.
Another way we support underrepresented groups is with a focus on the future. The United Health Foundation recently announced a commitment to spend $100 million over 10 years to help build a racially and ethnically diverse health workforce by providing scholarships and support to 10,000 underrepresented future clinicians and health professionals.
Do you feel like the teams you work with represent this goal of a diverse culture?
Our team in the Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office (GDEIO) is likely one of the most diverse teams in the organization. This is important not just because we are focused on increasing diversity across the enterprise, but also because everyone who interfaces with the GDEIO expects the team to bring diverse insights, lived experiences and perspectives that help ensure we meet the needs of the organization, the communities we serve and our members and customers.
How does Optum’s perspective on diversity impact you as an individual?
I’ve served in my current role for only a short time, but I have always felt that my voice and perspective have been valued, respected and heard. Optum has made a decision to prioritize DEI efforts with respect to culture, leadership and the systems through which decisions are made, even more than ever before. Given this new focus, it’s exciting that we have a lot of work to do to accelerate progress along our DEI strategy. We are fortunate to have a very energized and passionate team of employees at all levels of the workforce, from front-line workers to senior executives, who are eager to help us make progress.
Any final thoughts about why diverse perspectives are important?
Diverse perspectives are critical, and diverse insights are needed to ensure we address the needs of all team members and the communities we serve. That is how we truly achieve our mission.