What does DEI stand for at Optum and how do you ensure that it is an integral part of your organization’s culture and way of working?
At Optum, we emphasize a shared understanding of what diversity, equity and inclusion mean — diversity is a rich mix of differences, equity is driving fairness and inclusion is fostering a keen sense of belonging for all.
Together, DEI creates the culture of innovation and performance we need to achieve our mission of helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone. For our teams, DEI is by everyone and for everyone, which means we think comprehensively about DEI, considering all the people we touch and inviting action from all corners of our organization.
We are focused on five main objectives:
- Increasing the diversity of our workforce, especially at the leadership level
- Understanding the lived experiences of our employees, particularly where there are differences, so that we can learn how to better support their work experience
- Providing continuous education for our leaders and teams on how to create and contribute to an inclusive environment
- Increasing psychological safety by ensuring our leaders' and employees' behaviors align to our company’s core values and organizational policies, processes, and systems in order to advance equity, belonging and connection
- Engaging employees to get involved and advance an innovative and inclusive culture to help us win in the market
All this work is overseen by our Global DEI Office and the Advancing Equity Globally Board, which includes a cross-section of leaders from across the enterprise who help us drive accountability and strategy around our DEI efforts.
How do you ensure diversity in hiring at Optum India?
Hiring diverse talent groups is an integral part of our talent acquisition strategy. Through multiple diversity hiring initiatives, we are trying to build a workplace that is truly reflective of the communities where we operate and serve. Working together, our talent acquisition teams, business champions and leaders build a customized diversity hiring approach for each line of business.
In addition, we also run specific hiring programs such as the veterans’ program and disability inclusion program. The second careers program is targeted at professionals who want to rejoin the workforce after a career break.
As part of the veteran’s program, we also signed an MOU with the Indian Navy in 2021 to enable our servicemen to explore relevant career opportunities. Through this program we have onboarded ex-servicemen in various positions within our organization.
As part of our disability inclusion program, we have launched pilots for locomotive, speech and hearing disability.
There is a gender gap in STEM fields — especially in leadership roles — across the world. As a company that has consistently been ranked as one of the best places to work for women, what initiatives have helped you bridge this gap? (T&D Initiatives)
At Optum, we have programs designed to help build professional networks, provide training, mentoring and professional guidance to women pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers.
We make significant investments in building a gender-diverse leadership pipeline by up-skilling internal talent through domain, functional and leadership readiness trainings. These include:
- United Women Leading in Technology (UWLiT) forum, which connects leaders and employees around the globe to learn about career journeys, celebrating successes, overcoming adversity and building professional networks.
- UHG Invention Program gives inventors at Optum end-to-end support to patent their work. This includes helping to identify potentially patentable ideas and filing a patent application. UHG Women Invent, a part of this program, aims to enhance patent diversity.
- Women in Product (WiP) aims to inspire and engage women product professionals and to create a close-knit support system that encourages sharing, learning and overall career development in product management.
In addition, we have employee resource groups that are voluntary, typically based upon a shared characteristic, demographic or life experience that helps in creating allyship. Niche and tailored programs, such as Targeted Leader Career Pathing, are also helping develop women colleagues into successful leaders.
Unintentional or unconscious gender bias is an obstacle for gender equality in the workplace. How do you address this at Optum?
Reducing the impact of unconscious bias is a key priority of our Enterprise DEI Leader Advisory Councils, and we have established strategies across the employee lifecycle to reduce its impact.
To address any form of bias in recruitment, there are training sessions, guidebooks and practices designed to ensure inclusive interviewing and hiring processes.
We also encourage employees to learn about DEI through participation in various forums, both internal and external, to discuss topics such as gender equality, overcoming resistance, and unconscious bias and its impact on women's journeys to leadership.
Our diversity, equity and inclusion learning system serves as a self-service resource, designed to build inclusive leadership behaviors, develop personal awareness, examine bias, promote allyship, and grow resilience and resourcefulness.
What initiatives/policies/programs at Optum ensure that employees, especially women who often tend to be the primary caretakers, have the necessary support to maintain work-life balance and their overall well-being?
We believe work-life balance affects every employee’s job satisfaction, performance, health and well-being. Through our award-winning employee wellness program LiveWell, we engage, support and empower our employees and provide them with an all-encompassing well-being ecosystem.
Specifically for our women colleagues we have developed programs such as Care Nine and Care Nine Beyond, which help them through their maternity journey with continuous offerings of consultations, therapies and sessions to maintain a work-life balance. To further ensure their safety, we run a special transportation program by providing door-to-door transport facility throughout their pregnancy period.
In addition, programs such as day care benefits and a gender-agnostic parental leave policy give them the support they need to balance their work and personal life. Women professionals and working mothers shoulder multiple responsibilities and often find it difficult to invest time and effort in their own health.
Therefore, we offer all our colleagues flexible work schedules along with access to web and mobile-enabled infrastructure. We also extend leave (3–12 months) without pay to help employees lead a balanced personal and professional life.
For all these best practices, Optum has been recognized as one of the ‘Economic Times Best Organizations for Women 2023.’ We have also been recognized as Avtar Best 100 Companies for Women in India 2022 for the fifth year in a row.