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Culture Day 2021 Will Celebrate Diversity in the Workplace and Beyond

By Raymond Weaver2021-09-09
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Celebrating diversity helps build a safe space for everyone. That’s why all employees are encouraged to participate in Culture Day 2021, which will take place virtually on Oct. 7. To mark the occasion, we spoke with members of Affinity Council — an employee resource group (ERG) dedicated to promoting an environment of inclusion at CoverMyMeds.

Be Yourself is an element of our growth mindset that’s imbued throughout CoverMyMeds — and it’s not just something we say. Instead, every employee is encouraged to show up exactly as they are, ready to contribute their unique thoughts to the conversation.

In 2019, CoverMyMeds launched our Affinity Council — an employee resource group (ERG) dedicated to promoting a culture of diversity by making the company a safe, engaging space for everyone — and celebrated its inception with the inaugural Culture Day.

Two years later, that tradition lives on. 2021’s virtual event is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 7.

Culture Day planning is employee inspired

Melissa Richardson is an operations lead at CoverMyMeds and active Affinity Council member. Melissa's upbringing, she said, was the original inspiration behind her involvement in our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) leadership team.

“I grew up in a very monochromatic suburb of Cleveland. Basically, I was the only kid who wasn’t white,” Melissa said. When she went to college, she finally met other Chinese people — but they were all exchange students.

“They called me a ‘jook-sing,’ which means ‘bamboo pole,’” said Melissa. “In other words, I look the part, but I’m hollow inside — lacking substance when it comes to traditional Chinese culture.”

Unfortunately, that experience made Melissa feel like she didn’t fit in anywhere.

As Melissa began her professional career after graduation, she encountered the same thing — she didn’t look or feel like any of her coworkers. However, the tides changed when she interviewed at CoverMyMeds.

Providing a culture of inclusion from early on

“The interview process included a lunch, so I met with Jason Boonyakieat — a half Thai, half white man,” Melissa said. “We immediately bonded over the so-called ‘strange’ Asian foods we’d both eaten.” Seeing Jason — a man who looked like her, who was also in a leadership position — made Melissa consider the company in a new light.

Now that Melissa is in a leadership position of her own, her goal is to make sure everyone she encounters feels warm and welcome — no matter what they look like or where they come from.

“I know what we’re doing is working, and we’ve got the numbers to prove it,” Melisssa said. “Two years ago, only 79 percent of CoverMyMeds employees said they feel like their manager makes them feel like they belong. Now, that number is up to 88 percent, and I think Culture Day influenced that uptick.”

In a recent survey, 88% of CoverMyMeds employees said they feel like their manager makes them feel like they belong.

Reflecting on Culture Days of years past

For Mona Patel, Culture Day is an opportunity to celebrate her family’s culture with coworkers.

“My parents are Indian immigrants, but I’m American-born, so I was raised in a unique collision of Eastern and Western traditions. Now that I’m old enough to appreciate that, I want to share my experience with my peers.”

Mona Patel is a trainer for patient services at CoverMyMeds, and she helped establish the Affinity Council. At the inaugural Culture Day event, Mona treated her team to a dance performance alongside her twin sister Mega — or “better half,” as Mona calls her.

“We performed dandiya raas, which is a traditional folk dance that originates from the Indian state of Gujarat, where our parents are from,” Mona said. “My family performs the dance at every get-together — weddings, holidays, you name it. It’s very personal, so it was amazing to share that moment with my sister and my coworkers.”

Regarding this year’s Culture Day, Mona wants CoverMyMeds employees to know that everyone is invited.

“This year, we’re celebrating diversity of thought, background, and experience,” she said. “Regardless of what you look like, we want to experience Culture Day with you.”

This year, we’re celebrating diversity of thought, background and experience. Regardless of what you look like, we want to experience Culture Day with you.

Mona Pateltrainer, patient services at CoverMyMeds

Everyone is encouraged to participate

That sentiment is shared by Michael Ward, a recruiting coordinator who’s based in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Inclusion means everybody,” Michael said. “When I joined CoverMyMeds three years ago, I was the only black man on my team. Now, as part of the Affinity Council, it’s my goal to make sure everyone at the company feels heard and seen — that includes coworkers from across our now much larger business.”

Of course, celebrating one culture never means shunning another. “Everyone should be able to shine without dimming anybody else's light,” Michael said. “This Culture Day, my message to my fellow employees is this: please be you, I’ll be me, and together we can be more.”

This Culture Day, my message to my fellow employees is this: please be you, I’ll be me, and together we can be more.

Michael Wardrecruiting coordinator at CoverMyMeds

A hybrid event for all CoverMyMeds employees

Due to ongoing COVID-19 precautions, this year’s Culture Day — like last year’s — will take place virtually. In addition to performances like Mona’s, Affinity plans to break teams up into smaller groups to have important conversations and play interactive games that promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond.

For employees who choose to work in our Columbus, Ohio campus, the Culinary Team is planning to serve traditional Jewish cuisine and a Mediterranean-inspired meal. “We love to approach food from two perspectives — culinary and cultural,” said Eddie Maspons, a cook at CoverMyMeds. “It’s fun to learn about the geography and history behind dishes, which is why I love Culture Day.”

The goal for this year’s Culture Day is to continue to build an inclusive ecosystem with our remote and work-from-home colleagues and our new colleagues, as well. As our team evolves, so must the ways in which we celebrate each other. Company-wide events like Culture Day and CoverMyQuest aim to do exactly that.

To get involved in 2021’s Culture Day or submit a performance of your own, contact Mona Patel on Slack or via email. Learn more about CoverMyMeds’ company culture on our careers page.

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