WellPoint seeks diverse IT pros for “the company of the future”
The company prides itself on its diverse workforce. Overall, some 77 percent of associates are women and 34 percent are racially diverse
Every type of IT pro is needed at WellPoint, the country’s largest health benefits company, says Mark Boxer, president and CEO of ops, technology and government services.
“We are an information intensive, high-volume transaction processing business, which requires leadership in all aspects of technology from applications development to architecture, infrastructure and production support staff,” he explains.
Boxer says the technical pros WellPoint hires for its IT group have educational and real-world experience in every sort of technology you can think of. Project and program management skills are critical, along with business analysis competency.
Clearly, the company deals with complex, large-matrix projects. But Boxer notes that while experience is important, the company also offers hiring tracks for new emerging leaders and recent grads.
WellPoint prides itself on its diverse workforce. In the executive ranks, for example, the new chief info security officer is Shamla Naidoo, a native of South Africa. Overall, some 77 percent of WellPoint’s associates are female and 34 percent are racially diverse.
“We strive to mirror the markets in which we operate,” says Boxer. “At the end of the day, healthcare is a local business, but we want a national footprint for size and scale advantages.”
Boxer says WellPoint was the first health plan company to have a multilingual website and among the first to recognize the health needs of diverse populations.
Besides racial diversity, WellPoint reaches out to people with disabilities. “You have to think about diversity in the broadest context possible,” says Boxer. “We have a comprehensive hiring model that focuses on workforce representation, reinforced through policies and behaviors.
“We also have a series of initiatives for supplier diversity, identifying opportunities for diverse suppliers to work with WellPoint.”
The company has more than 41,000 employees. To encourage diversity throughout the organization, chief diversity officer Linda Jimenez has developed strategies to cover the marketplace as well as the workplace. WellPoint also has workplace “cultural ambassadors,” volunteers who carry the corporate diversity message while encouraging local initiatives.
The company is beginning to form affinity groups. “We have a couple of groups enjoying informal networking as well,” Jimenez says. There are opportunities for mentoring for people of color, women and people with disabilities.
Boxer notes that his department has made great strides in the hiring of those with disabilities, people he calls “able, but just in different ways.” The IT group recently launched a mentoring program that pairs up new hires with disabilities with current associates with disabilities. The mentors who work with these folks help create understanding of their needs within the entire department.
Since 2004, WellPoint has worked closely with Bender Consulting Services (Pittsburgh, PA), an IT consulting firm that employs and places people with disabilities. The company has been recognized nationally for its efforts, and Mark Boxer received the 2007 Tony Coelho Award, which is presented annually to a leader who has “demonstrated a significant commitment to employing people with disabilities in competitive positions, and worked to influence other business and government leaders.”
“Getting the right talent is vital to the organization of the future,” Boxer concludes. “Across all industries, IT jobs will see nearly 25 percent growth by 2012. We want to land the best talent, but we can do it only if we create a comfortable environment for a diverse employee base.”
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