Stephanie Carman: Inclusion, diversity and Bupa

Bupa's recent Caring Week was a time for us to reflect on how we care for our people, residents, customers, communities and ourselves, writes Stephanie Carman, Bupa's Head of Change and Capability.

For me, this transpired into a week of inclusion and it highlighted how much we, at Bupa, care deeply about making a difference to our people, customers and community.

Early in the week I was invited to speak at a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Conference in Sydney on how Bupa has been contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reconciliation in Australia through our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The room was filled with professionals leading D&I strategies within their own organisation all keen to learn from what other organisation are doing.

Initially what struck me was that across a full two-day conference (with a line-up of some of the biggest organisations in Australia), there was only one segment on Inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the workplace - Bupa’s segment.

Specifically, I spoke about the work Bupa is doing on improving employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through:

  • driving sustainable and scalable change with our Indigenous Employment Strategy
  • listening to the voice of our people to empowering Indigenous people in the workforce, and
  • developing strong partnerships for high impact talent programs.

This week is National Reconciliation Week (NRW). It's a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

On the back of my research on our strategy and impact, I understand more than ever how each one of us can contribute to reconciliation in Australia.

Across Bupa, we’re deeply committed to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage and to improve employment opportunities throughout every stage of our employment process. As a result, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment strategy was developed as an Australia-wide commitment of our business, our leaders and our people to help support this.

Our strategy includes deepening our connection with the traditional custodians of the land through welcome to country acknowledgements on every Bupa site across Australia, a Cultural Handbook, investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks across our head offices and partnerships with multiple organisations.

There are two key organisations who we partner with to contribute to our employment strategy. One of them is CareerTrackers – a not-for-profit organisation running an Indigenous Internship Program, creating unique opportunities to help prepare Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students for the workplace. Bupa signed an agreement with CareerTrackers committing to the placement of at least 10 interns per year over a 10 year period.

The other is Maxima – a national leader in helping the business community achieve Indigenous employment targets and build a stronger and more diverse workforce – which places students nationally across our Health Insurance Retail Centres.

The impacts of these partnerships go beyond the agreements. Indigenous students in some communities face huge hurdles to finish year 12, let alone getting to university. Closing the gap in employment opportunities is critical to Bupa’s reconciliation employment strategy, as we know that individuals who successfully complete Year 12 studies are more likely to find employment when they leave school. However, only once an Indigenous student finishes their tertiary studies is the employment gap levelled. There is huge vulnerability for students in a traineeship, navigating their studies, work and home lives, where they might not have a role model to help find the right career path.

Through our partnerships with CareerTrackers and Maxima, Bupa is working to support trainees and interns equally through enabling education attainment.

As I dove into my content for the conference, I was overwhelmed by the impact that Bupa was having on these students with so many stories of success.

Not only has Bupa supported every trainee who has come through our program to date in completing their studies, we have made a significant impact in creating the right support through the work environment in helping them realise their dreams.

There are so many inspiring stories that had a profound impact on me in preparing for the conference. One of these stories is about Keisha Nash.

Keisha Nash joined us through the CareerTrackers Internship program, after previous placements in other organisations. Keisha had two intern placements at Bupa, in the Medical team, where she delivered high quality projects aligned to Bupa’s purpose and her interest in a future career in Medicine. During this time Keisha was finishing her undergraduate Science Degree at Monash.

In December 2017, Keisha was accepted into postgraduate Medicine at Monash University and will join one of over 260 Indigenous medical professionals when she graduates.

Out of 85,000 medical professionals in Australia, less than 0.3 per cent are Indigenous.

Two days after the conference I was hosting the first internal Gender Agenda networking series of the year with Bupa’s Global Chief Customer and Corporate Affairs Officer, Alex Cole.

Gender Agenda is a pro-active, tailored development program – now in its fourth year – was designed to ignite and support the personal and career opportunities of women across Bupa. The networking element of the program this year is expanded the focus on Bupa A&NZ’s Inclusion Strategy, placing a spotlight on leaders both internally and externally sharing their own stories with a focus on multilayered identities, recognising that there are many elements that make up our identities.

The care and wisdom Alex shared, reflecting on her career journey through her multilayered identity with the 40+ Bupa women in attendance, was not only authentic but genuinely relatable to the diversity of the audience.

Alex encouraged the group to “be cheeky” and to “speak truth to power” in an effort to show kindness and care.I'm certain her wisdom will have a lasting impact on many of the women who listened so intently throughout.

That same day I was making final refinements to a proposal on a new leadership immersion program focused on our culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people. A step towards supporting our CALD people through their leadership journey in Australia. Helping them to identify multiple leadership opportunities for them right across Bupa.

Rounding out the week I was moved to tears at the first D&I panel that was hosted by our Head of Inclusion, Carol Corzo, as influences from a variety of roles ranging from Bupa Global Executive team members, A&NZ Directors and General Managers to Alysha Waye, Bupa’s Intern through the Australian Network on Disability, who shared their personal and (inspiring) stories of why inclusion is so important to them. The week really showcased how #caring Bupa is, not only as a place to work but as an organisation that genuinely cares about making a difference to our customers and residents.

Bupa’s holistic view of Inclusion is understanding and responding to the needs of our customers is best accomplished when Bupa represents the diversity of the communities we serve. And that, we engage and empower our people to deliver to our diverse customers.

Written by Stephanie Carman, Head of Change and Capability at Bupa.

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