It’s nice to see that soon-to-be Oakland-based company Blue Shield of California is a major sponsor for the fourth year in a row of the 2018 San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade also called SF Pride.
As a nonprofit health plan with 4 million members across California, Blue Shield says it is dedicated to supporting workplace and community initiatives that promote diversity and inclusiveness. Blue Shield support of San Francisco Pride 2018, and Pride Month is but one such effort.
Blue Shield is relocating its headquarters to Oakland in 2019 in a move designed to reduce administrative costs, provide a new, state-of-the-art facility for approximately 1,200 employees and strengthen the company’s position for long-term, sustainable growth. BSC will move to 601 City Center in Oakland, in mid-2019. 601 City Center is being developed by Shorenstein and MetLife. Construction on the 24-story building begins in 2017 and will be ready for occupancy in the third quarter of 2019.
“Our sponsorship and active participation in the Pride parades of San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego, not only emphasize our commitment to a workforce that reflects the diversity of our members but further send a strong message of support to LGBTQ+ communities everywhere” said Mary O’Hara, Blue Shield Chief Human Resources Officer and Senior Vice President, who is a recipient of the 2018 Out and Equal Champion Award.
Blue Shield (which was recognized as Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Employees) strives to create a workplace culture that reflects the diverse communities it serves. The company has six – and growing – Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that are open to all employees in support of LGBTQ+, veterans, women, African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans. These groups provide networking and development opportunities and help create an environment where all employees feel safe, welcome and free to be their authentic selves.
“As a gay African-American man, I’m hyper sensitive and hyper aware of my surroundings. Throughout my career journey, I’ve longed to land someplace I felt I could truly call ‘home;’ somewhere I could show up as my authentic self without thinking twice” says Robert Birks, co-chair of the Shield Pride Employee Resource Groups (ERG) at Blue Shield of California. “Every morning I walk through those doors at Blue Shield, I know I’m going to do my best, and then some, because the best of me comes out every day.”
Blue Shield’s Pride ERG, which is about 350 members strong, works year round in support of its members in the workplace and the community. Among its many 2018 programs, the Shield Pride ERG has started two conversation series for Blue Shield employees. Out Talk! is an in-depth and intimate series where “out” BSC LGBTQ+ employees and allies share their personal life journey stories. It also launched an ally workshop series to educate employees on speaking up to support LGBTQ+ workplace equality and becoming advocates on LGBTQ+ issues.