This summer, more than 200 CoverMyMeds employees participated in the 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge, a series of mini courses offering a comprehensive overview of racial inequality and injustice in our country, from school segregation and voter suppression to how the U.S. Census works. Every day for three weeks, employees used a dedicated Slack channel to share their insights, ask questions and talk about potential solutions for problems we can address only by working together. The event was so successful, employees will have another opportunity to participate in the challenge next spring.
Behind this initiative is Women in Healthcare IT (WHIT), an employee resource group (ERG) that aims to encourage and advance women through education, networking and mentorship. Launched by staff in 2016, WHIT has grown to more than 300 members, and is open to all employees who want to contribute to its mission.
“We’re trying to evolve as rapidly as our world is evolving,” says Mary Agbovi, WHIT chair and legal operations manager at CoverMyMeds. “The 21-Day Challenge was just the start of some very important work fighting injustice in our communities. We look at everything WHIT offers as a growth opportunity … as an opportunity to interact professionally while growing as people.”
Affecting Change through Virtual Events
In terms of impact, WHIT is the largest of our ERGs, representing more than 54 percent of our staff.
Helping Agbovi lead the charge are co-chairs Tegan Hendershot, a case manager on the Patient Services team, and Hillary Henderson, a Patient Services project lead.
“We’ve had to be on our toes this year,” Hendershot says. “Moving all of our events and programs virtual has been challenging, but we’ve also had more options for our staff to participate in than ever before.”
Throughout the year, WHIT offers internal and external networking opportunities, educational and advocacy events and community service. This year, the group has focused on the health and wellbeing of its members.
“During this time of general isolation, we felt it was really important to focus on community care,” Agbovi says. “While we’re maintaining our external relationships — with organizations like the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), Women for Economic Leadership and Development (WELD), YWCA and Dress for Success — we’re calling this a ‘breathe in’ year. Our goal is to do the best we can by the CoverMyMeds women and our allies.”
That includes continuing WHIT’s signature events, like Lightning Talks, in a virtual format, and launching new activities. These include the WHIT pen pal project, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day campaigns and events like a celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
“A lot of unknown women, many of them Black, were integral in the passing of the 19th Amendment,” Agbovi says. “Many people still didn’t know that story. I’m thrilled we had the opportunity to share their stories.”
Building a Culture on Social Justice
An ERG can do more than help us network and improve on our existing skillsets — it can help us develop new skills and awareness, too.
“People wanted to keep learning and sharing,” Agbovi says of the 21-Day Challenge. “And we didn’t want employees to think that we’d stop talking about hard topics at the end of the challenge. This is an ongoing conversation and, although it’s sometimes difficult, we do believe our climate of inclusiveness will continue to strengthen.”
In August, WHIT presented two YWCA-hosted Cultural Competency workshops, in which 90 employees participated. WHIT is hosting additional workshops in October and early next year.
“It’s commendable that so many employees have put in the time and effort to engage in these conversations,” Agbovi says. “One of my goals is to develop leaders around me that are known bias interrupters, fearless and confident to champion themselves and their coworkers.”
Named a CoverMyMeds Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Champion, Agbovi credits the entire WHIT leadership team of 25 colleagues for the success the ERG has had this year facilitating conversations and growth.
“There is so much excitement as we continue to grow the ERG,” she says, “and focus on what our women and allies need for their personal and professional growth.”