Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate women’s achievements and applaud the progress we’ve collectively made toward equity. It is a time to imagine a world that is more diverse and inclusive – free of discrimination and bias in the workplace and at home in our communities. Importantly, it is also a time to reflect on the many unique challenges women continue to face and commit to actions that improve and challenge the status quo.
“We’re proud of the work we’ve done to support and empower women, and we will continue to make meaningful progress.” Eliana Nunez, vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at The Cigna Group
Nunez added, “Supporting women through diversity, equity, and inclusion is not only an important business priority for us, but is also deeply rooted in our culture and values.”
Read on to learn about the ways in which The Cigna Group supports women both within the communities we serve and within our enterprise.
1. Improving health outcomes for women
Supporting women’s health is a key priority for our organization – and we are committed to improving health outcomes for women. One area of focus is supporting healthy pregnancies for expectant mothers. Preterm birth is on the rise in the United States, with more than one in 10 babies arriving early – increasing the risk of dangerous, costly complications for mother and baby. The Cigna Group’s Cigna Healthcare has a program called Healthy Pregnancies Healthy Babies, which connects women one-on-one with maternity specialists to coordinate care and offer the support, education, and resources they need to optimize their chances of having a healthy, full-term pregnancy. This holistic approach also includes postpartum support, including for women who lose their baby.
Importantly, Cigna Healthcare works hand in hand with women across their entire pregnancy. Screenings identify those who are at a greater risk for pregnancy-related complications and prenatal hospitalizations due to medical conditions, at higher risk for complications due to factors related to social determinants of health (SDOH), or in need of behavioral care. For those at higher risk, or when babies are born in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Cigna Healthcare high-risk and NICU case managers are there to help women achieve the best possible outcomes.
Additionally, The Cigna Group is committed to reducing health disparities based on SDOH. A recent study of Cigna Healthcare customers found that 63% of our pregnant customers face one or more challenges related to SDOH, which can put expectant mothers at higher risk. This – coupled with the fact that African-American and Black women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women, and two times more likely to have a baby in the NICU – magnifies the need to address health disparities for women.
Cigna Healthcare launched a pilot program in select markets to reduce these disparities, providing high-risk women with nine months of free home delivery of prescriptions for prenatal vitamins and aspirin, behavioral health support, transportation to prenatal doctor visits, and food delivery for those in need. Through the pilot, Cigna Healthcare also works with the March of Dimes to provide obstetrics and gynecology providers with implicit bias awareness training to further reduce disparities based on race or ethnicity.
2. Fair pay and opportunity
The Cigna Group is committed to fair, competitive, and transparent pay practices. To support that commitment, we continue to evolve our programs, practices, and processes to drive fair pay and opportunity for all employees, regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity. We conduct ongoing internal pay reviews aimed at ensuring that employees are paid fairly. We are proud of the progress we’ve made to create more opportunities for women to advance, but we know there is more work to do. We aspire to reach gender parity in our leadership pipeline by increasing the representation of women at our director and senior director levels to 50% by 2024, thereby increasing the number of women positioned to succeed to executive positions within the company.
We know that impactful change requires behavioral and structural inclusion. To hold ourselves accountable to our aspirational gender representation goals and to women thriving at The Cigna Group more broadly, our company joined the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles, and we continue to partner with organizations such as the Women Business Collaborative and Paradigm for Parity (P4P). We’ve also committed to publishing a Diversity Scorecard Report, to identify key areas of opportunity and track our progress.
We also know that women may face different challenges than their male counterparts. To ensure that women feel supported throughout their careers, The Cigna Group has a number of programs and strategic initiatives in place that focus on career development and advancement, as well as mentoring and coaching. These programs include our Transformational Leadership program, which is available to select emerging leaders at The Cigna Group. We are also proud to partner with a number of organizations to recruit, grow, and develop women within our workforce, including the Anita Borg Foundation and the Forte Foundation.
3. Workplace culture that empowers women
At The Cigna Group, we’re particularly proud of the role our enterprise resource groups (ERGs) play in our efforts to support and empower all employees. Our WIN (Women Influencing and Networking) ERG provides women who work at The Cigna Group opportunities for networking, mentoring, personal and professional development, and community service, with the goal of cultivating an inclusive environment that supports and encourages women to advance their skills and leadership potential through connection, mentorship, collaboration, and discussion.
WIN helps support and encourage women at The Cigna Group to advance their skills and leadership potential through connection, mentorship, collaboration, and discussion and serves as a forum for women to find or elevate their voice and be heard within our community regarding issues that affect them in the workplace. (Pictured left, WIN ERG member at a local volunteer event.)
WIN also gives our employees opportunities to impact the lives of women outside of our workforce through partnerships with Girls on the Run and Dress for Success. WIN members regularly participate in employee-led initiatives to support women in the community – for example, with the Women’s Health Drive led by The Cigna Group’s Technology Early Career Development Program, which collects health supplies for homeless women in our local communities and raises awareness about women's health. In 2022, the drive collected nearly 15,000 sanitary and hygiene items for homeless women.
4. Women-friendly well-being and benefits programs
Our mission is to improve the health and vitality of those we serve, and that includes our more than 70,000 employees across the globe. We invest in our people through a comprehensive total rewards program, which has been carefully designed to help employees enhance their personal, professional, and overall well-being.
The Cigna Group provides our employees who are new mothers with a minimum of 8 weeks of 100% paid caregiver leave in addition to short-term disability paid time off that is needed for recovery after giving birth. We also provide breastfeeding support, breast pumps covered at 100% via the Cigna medical plan, access to nursing mother’s rooms while at the office, and a convenient, no-cost, breast milk delivery program while traveling on business. We also provide our working moms with child-care discounts, subsidized back-up care and access to resources like tutor.com to make the parenting journey less stressful.
We know our working moms are busy, so we’re making self-care easier by providing no-cost access to the Peloton app for thousands of live and on-demand classes like cardio, strength, meditation, yoga, walking, and running, with no equipment required. The Cigna Group also provides clinical coaching support to all caregivers to ensure they have the support they need from self-care to understanding medical and behavioral options when caring for a loved one (more than 75% of caregivers are women).
We also know flexibility is important and therefore offer flexible work arrangements such as compressed work weeks, home-based/telecommuting work, part-time options, job sharing, and flex time. In addition, our employee assistance program provides resources and counseling around marital concerns, parenting challenges, depression and anxiety issues, ways to better manage stress, and more.
5. Serving women in our communities
There are many ways The Cigna Group is making an impact in the lives of women in the communities we serve. We are committed to working directly with non-profit organizations that work with women within their local communities. Through the Cigna Foundation, we support a wide variety of organizations that all share the common goal of supporting women.
For example, aligned to our drive to improve health outcomes, this year the Cigna Foundation awarded a grant to support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s efforts to help underrepresented Hispanic women in Orange County, California, access and navigate treatment programs. And to support African American/Black women (who are 40% more likely to have high blood pressure than white women), the Cigna Foundation is supporting the American Heart Association’s initiative to equip female-focused community based organizations and female-owned businesses with the knowledge, awareness, and access to quality health care, specifically around hypertension and high blood pressure. To help disrupt mental health inequity, the Cigna Foundation provided a grant to Sista Afya Community Care, which provides free therapy and holistic wellness support to African American and Black women experiencing barriers to care, and to the Women’s Resources Center to End Domestic Violence, which provides safe spaces and mental health services for women who are impacted by domestic violence.
This year, the Cigna Foundation has also supported active-duty U.S. military and veteran servicewomen through a grant to the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) emergency assistance program, which offers support and resources to active duty and reserve servicewomen and veterans who may be experiencing homelessness, sexual assault, domestic violence, post-traumatic stress disorder, or mental health crises. The Cigna Foundation also provided a grant to the Commit Foundation, which provides transition support for female veterans and military spouses, to help them pursue post-service lives full of vitality and success.
These are just some of the many women-focused partnerships the Cigna Foundation supports. Partners and sponsored efforts by The Cigna Group in 2022 and 2023 also include the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events, Genesis Women’s Shelter emergency shelter program, Aurora Women and Girls Foundation college success program, and The Village for Families and Children’s Girl Within event, to name a few.
“We will continue to work directly with the communities we serve and the employees within our enterprise to foster a sense of belonging and build upon the collective strengths of women,” said Nunez. “To thrive, women must feel represented, valued, and respected, and they must have equitable access to the health outcomes and career opportunities they deserve.”
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