Leading by Example with an I.D.E.A. Mindset

By Sady Alvarado-Fischer 


At Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, we believe we have an opportunity and duty to pave the way for positive change in the communities we serve. This starts internally, as we define our health plan’s core values and behaviors, and resonates outward through our relationships with community partners.  

One initiative we’re most proud of is our work to foster an environment where inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (I.D.E.A.) are explicitly recognized as fundamental to our corporate culture. The I.D.E.A. mindset guides us in all we do, creating spaces for all people to be valued, seen, and empowered. We are intentional in our approach to addressing and mitigating the impact of biases, and remain committed to equitable treatment for all, inside our organization, and beyond our walls. 

Steps taken to ensure this momentum include the creation of a department within our organization devoted to this work. Internally, we have launched a Stand Against Racism Pledge signing campaign to encourage employees to get engaged in this issue. We created our own “Stand Against Racism Curriculum” to educate our employees on implicit bias, white privilege, microaggressions, allyship, and more. We introduced our staff to a series presented by the New York Times called “Conversations on Race,” and participated in hugely successful 21-day Racial Equity Challenge. 

Excellus BCBS observes Juneteenth and Pride Month, providing opportunities not only for celebration, but also to raise awareness, provide resources, share stories, and engage in dialogue that deepens our commitment to equity and inclusion. Our employees are encouraged to join employee resource groups designed to increase cultural understanding through the sharing of ideas among ethnically and culturally diverse groups. 

Our organization was recently listed among the Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality by the Corporate Equality Index that is administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion by the Disability Equality Index that is administered by Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities.

While we have made great strides, guided by the I.D.E.A. mindset, Excellus BCBS’s efforts are ongoing, and we hope an inspiration to other employers to follow suit. Together we can make a difference. 

Among our next steps, Excellus BCBS recently announced a Health Equity Award competition to help fund health and wellness programs that address racial and ethnic health disparities in Central New York. Nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations throughout our region’s five counties are invited to apply. Find details online at www.excellusbcbs.com, then type “community investments partnerships” in the search menu.

Sady Alvarado-Fischer is director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.