Jun 21, 2023
How The Cigna Group supports the LGBTQ+ community
Gay couple cooking together in a kitchen.

Quick Take

  • The Cigna Group is taking action to reduce health disparities for LGBTQ+ people. 
  • Our Pride ERG is just one example of how we are fostering a sense of belonging among our LGBTQ+ employees.
  • We work with and provide philanthropic support to nonprofit organizations that focus on LGBTQ+ health, education, and advocacy.

At The Cigna Group, we strive to create a work environment where all people are treated with respect and dignity and are empowered, supported, and encouraged to bring their whole selves to work — inclusive of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Not only is this the right thing to do, it’s also good for our business. A plethora of research proves that diverse teams make better, more informed decisions, drive greater innovation, and see better business results.

“We are stronger when our employees feel respected, valued, and supported — and by fostering an environment where employees can bring their whole selves to work," said Eliana Nunez, vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at The Cigna Group.

Eliana Nunez

“Our culture is grounded in inclusion and belonging and we celebrate each other’s differences and unique perspectives, knowing that we can better serve our diverse customers, clients and communities when we bring our collective experiences to the table.” Eliana Nunez, vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at The Cigna Group

As we honor of Pride month this June, we find ourselves in a time where the LGBTQ+ community is more celebrated than ever before, while also dealing with challenges in their communities and workplaces.

“On one hand, it is an amazing time — particularly in the United States — to be an out and proud LGBTQ+ person or an ally,” said Dr. Renee McLaughlin, national medical director at Cigna Healthcare, who was featured in a recent episode of the “Health Unscripted” podcast by The Cigna Group. “There are greater freedoms and greater acceptance. The LGBTQ+ community is in many respects viewed as part of the normal social fabric of our environment, more so than ever before.”

Listen to the full Health Unscripted Podcast episode featuring Dr. McLaughlin below:

However, statistics around LGBTQ+ individuals’ access to health caremental health and well-being, and workplace stigma make it clear that more change must come. Below, we highlight just some of the ways The Cigna Group supports the LGBTQ+ community in our workforce and in the communities we serve. 

Addressing health disparities and building cultural competency

While the LGBTQ+ community has made significant progress in awareness and acceptance, health care inequities still exist — from access to quality health care and services to health care provider perceptions. These factors affect overall well-being within the LGBTQ+ community, highlighting the continued need for effective health equity initiatives.

Research shows that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to report a lack of cultural competence by health care providers. Cultural competency in health care is the ability to recognize and understand cultural distinctions, address unconscious/conscious bias, and adapt care delivery and services to meet individuals' unique social, cultural, and language needs.

Research from The Cigna Group, which surveyed 10,000 U.S. adults to better understand their health and vitality, finds that the LGBTQ+ community faces unique barriers in finding health care providers who are culturally trained and sensitive to their health needs. For example, 50% of LGBTQ+ individuals strongly feel their provider really listens to them, compared to 63% of heterosexual, cisgender individuals. Also, 49% of LGBTQ+ individuals strongly feel respected by their provider, compared to 62% of heterosexual, cisgender individuals. The trend continues with 51% of LGBTQ+ individuals reporting strong feelings of trust in their provider, compared to 65% of heterosexual, cisgender individuals.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are also more likely to report poor quality of care and unfair treatment by health care providers and are more likely to experience delays in getting care — especially older adults. In addition, research shows that lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition. This statistic increases for transgender individuals, who are nearly four times as likely to experience a mental health condition as compared to cisgender individuals.

We are taking action to help achieve health equity for the LGBTQ+ community:

  • We ask providers to self-identify themselves on MyCigna.com as being experienced in caring for LGBTQ+ patients.
  • We provide physicians and other providers with access to LGBTQ+ specific trainings and resources to help them build cultural competency. Cigna Healthcare has provided training on LGBTQ+ health issues to over 600 clinicians.
  • Cigna Healthcare’s My Personal Champion program provides one-on-one guidance and case management for customers seeking gender-affirming care, helping them navigate services like hormone therapy, speech therapy, and mental health.
  • We expanded our health plan’s travel benefit to include travel for gender-affirming care for The Cigna Group employees and their dependents who are enrolled in a Cigna Healthcare medical plan and who live in regions where access is restricted.
  • We created an employee-facing guide that provides tools and resources to help employees navigate gender transition. We also created a manager-facing guide to further support a transgender colleague’s transition. And, we launched a dedicated customer support line for our transgender customers, which includes our employees.
  • We have an  Enterprise Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council to shape our organization’s ongoing DEI and health equity efforts.
  • We publish a Diversity Scorecard Report on an annual basis to track progress and communicate our health equity goals in a transparent way.

“Effective health care is founded on trust,” Dr. McLaughlin said. “Patients are entrusting one of our most precious resources, our health, to someone else — and it’s crucial that we’re able to trust that our health care system has our best interests at heart and is equipped to understand our unique needs.”

Fostering a sense of belonging for our workforce

According to a striking survey from the Human Rights Campaign, 46% of LGBTQ+ workers are not out at work, and 13% of LGBTQ+ workers feel that if they were honest about their sexuality, they would be fired. Additionally, 1 in 10 LGBTQ+ workers have left a job because the environment was not accepting of LGBTQ+ people.

More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ Americans (35%) said their ability to be hired for work has been negatively affected to a moderate or significant degree in the past year due to discrimination, while about 3 in 10 (31%) have faced negative impacts on their salary, growth opportunity, and employment overall.  

The ability to bring your whole self to work — unabated by stigma, fear, or bias — is a deep-rooted part of our culture at The Cigna Group. Our aim is to create an inclusive work environment where people are treated with respect and dignity and to celebrate the diverse experiences of each and every one of our employees.

Here are some of the proof points around the work we are doing to foster inclusion and belonging among our LGBTQ+ employees:

  • For the 10th year in a row, The Cigna Group has been recognized as a best place to work for LGBTQ+ equality, and we scored 100% on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index. The Cigna Group is also proud to be listed by Fair360 as a top company (#8) for LGBTQ+ employees.
  • Our Pride employee resource group (ERG) exists to foster understanding and acceptance around the LGBTQ+ community and empower employees through education and advocacy. The group has more than 1,100 active members and continues to grow.
  • Through the Pride ERG, we regularly host events to engage all employees on crucial topics related to the LGBTQ+ community. For example, we recently hosted a conversation with American civil rights activist Jim Obergefell, lead plaintiff in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage throughout the U.S. 

Supporting education and advocacy in our communities

Through The Cigna Group Foundation, we have continued to work with and provide philanthropic support to nonprofit organizations that focus on LGBTQ+ health, education, and advocacy — on the ground in the community. For example, in recent years, The Cigna Group Foundation has awarded $175,000 to nonprofit partners focused on LGBTQ+ issues, including The Trevor Project, an organization focused on suicide prevention and crisis support for youth, and OUT Maine, an organization that provides community-based, prevention-focused programming and training that lifts up LGBTQ+ youth.

More work to do

The Cigna Group will continue to work side by side with community partners, and internally within our workforce, to reduce barriers to health care and health disparities, improve access to mental health resources, and advocate for inclusive, equitable treatment, regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity.

“For our LGBTQ+ customers and colleagues, there are always opportunities for us to do better and that work must never stop,” Dr. McLaughlin said. Although we’ve made significant progress toward awareness and acceptance, there is much work to be done, and we must continue to strive toward true health equity and belonging for the LGBTQ+ community.”

LGBTQ+ pride flag

Improving health outcomes in the LGBTQ+ community

Learn how Cigna Healthcare is addressing LGBTQ+ health disparities and embedding health equity into the core of our benefits.

Learn more