Q&A with Susan Stith
Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, Human Resources
How does Express Scripts define diversity and inclusion?
This is a common question, but the answer is very simple: Diversity is the mix of people, and inclusion is making the mix work.
As a company, we have more than 25,000 employees who are diverse in terms of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, education, disability status and geographic background, just to name a few. But equally important is the answer to this question: How inclusive is the environment in which we ask that mix of employees to work every day?
How do you ensure inclusion?
We do that by creating and maintaining an environment that appreciates and respects individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds and behaviors − an environment where diversity and inclusion are the foundation on which success and growth are built, in which everyone is fully engaged and therefore able to contribute to their fullest potential every day.
Why is this important?
Since our inception in 1986, Express Scripts has recognized that the key competitive differential for success is its people. And diversity among them has been essential because our clientele and the patients we serve are as diverse as America.
Diverse teams are more creative, more dynamic and much more innovative − all factors that lead to the collaborative processes, technological advances and organizational and economic growth.
Can you cite some specifics?
Today, Express Scripts is a leader among Fortune 25 companies with a workforce that is 69% female and 39% minority.
Age diversity is also part of our success. The average age of our workforce is a relatively young 43, and over a third of our people leaders are under age 48. While many American companies anticipate labor shortages in the next 5 to 10 years as baby boomers retire, we feel our future leadership is secure.
What is the biggest challenge to Express Scripts in achieving and maintaining a diverse workforce?
To be successful in this area, we have to view diversity and inclusion as a journey − one that requires solid fundamental approaches, internal resources and programs, and external partnerships to move forward.
What recent progress has Express Scripts made to ensure diversity and inclusion in its workforce?
We are making great progress. We’ve launched six Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that offer employees the opportunity to network, enhance personal development, contribute to a diverse and inclusive work environment, and give back to the community through partnerships with leading organizations. Each ERG has a unique focus, fostering cross-company connections among individuals whose paths might never cross during the course of a regular workday.
- Cultural Connection celebrates our differences and fosters a culturally aware workforce that helps the organization embrace change and innovate.
- Express PossAbilities increases awareness and educates about the issues and challenges facing both people with disabilities and caregivers.
- EXPRESSions supports, informs and advocates to advance Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) equality.
- UpNext offers resources and tools to empower employees who are ready to take the next step in their career.
- VaLOR (Veterans and Leaders Organizing Resources) advances the awareness and inclusion of veterans, and capitalizes on opportunities to assist, guide and support those who have served.
- WE LEAD (Women of Express Scripts Listen, Engage, Advocate and Develop) celebrates the diversity of women, creating an environment for professional and personal growth.
We’ve also enhanced outreach and sourcing to former military personnel and minorities through diversity career fairs including National Black MBA and the Consortium, while ensuring that our recruiters achieved Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR) status. In addition, Express Scripts partnered with The Starkloff Disability Foundation and began work toward educating and training managers to reach the disabled population, which numbers 56.7 million Americans, according to the Census Bureau (July 2012).
How does Express Scripts support supplier diversity?
Express Scripts is committed to a comprehensive supplier diversity program that ensures inclusion of diverse suppliers in our competitive bidding process. Our goal is to make sure that the diversity of our suppliers drives innovation, increases shareholder value and reflects the broad diversity of the people and markets we serve.
We established a dedicated full-time staff position to increase diverse supplier participation. We also set up a committee within our Diversity Council to drive the supplier initiative throughout the company. As a result, Express Scripts increased spending in this area by 20 percent in 2012.