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Celebrating Pride Month with the BoD Advisory Board: Morgan Templar

Vice President, Data Management at Highmark Health Solutions, shares how her organization is supporting and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community

We know diversity and inclusion are crucial to successfully avoid issues surrounding AI bias etc., so how do you ensure your data and analytics teams are welcoming to all, in particular for the LGBTQ+ community?

It is a frequently quoted fact that we hire people like the people we are around – people in our community and circles. I am and always have been an ally. I have a daughter and many friends and relatives within the LGBTQ+ community. So, how does that manifest at work? My current leadership team is 50% within the LGBTQ+ community. We are 100% within some minority group – most of us being in more than one classification.

We don’t do anything overt to recruit or hire within the Pride community. We’re just in the community, so it is natural that people hear about opportunities on our teams and see the trust and respect we hold for each other. It’s just gravity.

What are you doing to celebrate pride month in your organization?

At Highmark Health, diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical strategic priorities. 

“Understanding diversity and practicing inclusion is a journey that begins with you. It is an integral part of our organization. Celebrating the whole of humanity – our diverse abilities, races, and ethnicities, generations, orientations, genders, cultures, religions, classes, educations, and experiences – allows us to create a fair, equitable, healthy, and high-performing corporate culture.”

Pride celebrations are occurring across our service areas in Pennsylvania, New York, and many other states. There are also events in Washington DC and Seattle that we are encouraged to participate in virtually.

Within my own team, we have opened conversations to talk about Pride and what it means. Giving people space to share their stories and experiences encourages others who may not be ready to “come out at work” the comfort that they will be accepted.

How have you ensured inclusivity remains at the top of the agenda whilst your organization has been working remotely?

Being remote hasn’t changed that much for our team – we were already spread geographically across several states and regions. What it has done is give us the opportunity to share our pride in our Zoom and Teams backgrounds. It’s a quiet gesture that can change the perspective of those you are speaking with.

How have you ensured inclusivity remains at the top of the agenda whilst your organization has been working remotely?

First and foremost – Talk about it. Talk about it on LinkedIn, Clubhouse, Twitter – whatever platforms you have available to you. Make it known that everyone is welcome and that you specifically mean everyone. Share articles about diversity. Make posts. Tweet support. It’s really easy these days to reach an entire group of people with a simple hashtag! #PRIDE #Juneteenth

Make sure your circle includes people from all walks of life. If you look around a see a monochromatic sea of faces look farther afield for the next hire. Talent stays where they are valued, trusted, accepted, and heard. Regardless of where we fall on the rainbow, at our core, we are all the same. Treat each person with respect and dignity and allow space for people to be as open or private as they wish to be.

More organizations than ever before are encouraging their employees to be their authentic selves, how does your organization encourage this?

The importance of being authentic and true to yourself is part of our annual diversity, equity and inclusion training programs. It is regularly discussed in leadership updates and employee communications. We have Yammer available for anyone to foster a community that is interested in the same hobbies or causes.

Why is celebrating Pride is important to you?

Leaders can only be truly inclusive when they are authentically open and caring about their people. Being inclusive isn’t something you think of only when a rainbow-filled parade passes by. Self-examination must be given priority. Asking yourself those hard questions around bias or perspective to become self-aware is the first step. We all have internal ideas that were planted in our subconscious minds over a lifetime of teaching, observing, and experiencing. Pull those out and look at them. What do they say about what you believe and how you act when faced with people or situations that challenge those ideas? Dare to listen to others. Dare to speak.

Morgan Templar is a member of the Business of Data Advisory Board. To find out more about how we work with data and analytics leaders from around the globe to champion all voices within the data and analytics community, visit this link.