By Laura Kaslow - Sr. PR Specialist | Digital & Social Engagement

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Blue Cross named a 2018 Best Place to Work for LGBTQ equality

November 16, 2017

The results of the 2018 Human Rights Campaign (HRC) annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI) are in, rating the policies and practices of major companies to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workers. Once again, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has been named a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ equality, being one of only 609 companies in the United States to achieve the top rating of 100 percent.

Widely considered to be the gold standard for LGBTQ workplace inclusion, the CEI is an important measure for Blue Cross in fulfilling its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“Blue Cross looks at best practices for diversity and inclusion as an integral part of our corporate strategy,” said Paula Phillippe, senior vice president of human resources and corporate social responsibility. “Holding to the high standard set for the CEI is embedded in all aspects of the company, including business operations, talent acquisition, and our corporate social responsibility work.”

“The high standard set by the CEI is embedded in all aspects of the company, including business operations, talent acquisition, and our corporate social responsibility work.”

Blue Pride drives employee engagement

One key way that Blue Cross practices LGBTQ inclusion is through the work of Blue Pride, the company’s LGBTQ employee resource group. Blue Pride hosts several events and volunteer opportunities for employees each year. This year alone the group hosted tables at the National Coming Out Day luncheon, the Quorum Leadership Awards and the HRC Twin Cities annual gala.

Jeanine Mlynek (pictured center in photo), co-chair of Blue Pride and a member of the HRC Twin Cities steering committee, co-chaired the HRC gala this year. Working tirelessly as a committed advocate for LGBTQ equality, Mlynek directly sees the importance of the Best Places to Work Designation.

“It’s great to work for an organization where you can be your true self,” Mlynek said. “I have been an ally for the LGBTQ community for as long as I can remember.”

“I’m incredibly proud that Blue Cross is deeply committed to creating a welcoming and diverse workforce, as well as ensuring the needs of our members from the LGBTQ community are met.”

Setting the standard for equality best practices

The gains have not gone unnoticed. Members of Blue Pride will join HRC members at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management to discuss best practices to achieve a 100 percent CEI score, as well as why this designation matters in the business world. Company leaders from across the Twin Cities will learn directly from Blue Cross’ ongoing success in this upcoming forum.


One area where the company’s efforts have had particular focus is in focusing on the company’s transgender policy. This has included a “Gender 101” training for the human resources team, which is being expanded to additional areas of the business in the coming year.

Mlynek also said she has been pleased to see Blue Cross address diversity in the workplace and business head on.

“We are courageous in that we are talking about it, owning the work that needs to be done, both in admitting where we lack and celebrating where we have made gains,” Mlynek said.

Inclusion integral to business planning

Our best practices for inclusion are not only a part of how Blue Cross supports employees but are also key to how Blue Cross is doing business, especially in how the company supports its nearly 3 million members.

“We think about how we respond not only to our employees, but also to our members,” said Valton Henderson, program manager for diversity and inclusion.

“We look at diversity through an equity lens,” Henderson said. “We want to align our efforts so that they work more closely with the goals of the strategic plan. That’s something we’re really focusing on right now.”

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