Network Health could be called the epitome of the word diverse. The Medford, Mass.-based health plan, which provides access to high-quality health care for more than 200,000 moderate- and low-income residents in Massachusetts, has embraced diversity at many levels—one could even say they’ve embedded it into the company culture. The reasons for this commitment are easy to understand. Having a diverse workforce allows Network Health to better serve, understand and represent its members who come from a wide range of ethnic and racial backgrounds. And the strategy appears to be working: Today, Network Health employs more than 400 employees, 46 percent of whom are non white, and 24 percent of which are in supervisory positions. Network Health’s employees speak nearly 20 languages themselves, and provide customer service in more than 170 languages.
The commitment to diversity, in large part, stems from Vin Pina, vice president of Human Resources. Pina, who experienced discrimination firsthand when a landlord refused to rent him an apartment due to his race, has made it a priority in both his personal and professional life to promote diversity and the understanding and acceptance of other races and cultures. When Pina joined Network Health, he spearheaded a three-year strategic effort to diversify the health plan’s workforce in accordance with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EOCC) employee-diversity standards. Under Pina’s leadership, Network Health hired twice the number of minority employees than standards propose in only two years.
As Pina said, “It's simple: If our employees speak the same language as our members, and know our members' neighborhoods, struggles, customs and traditions, we can be more efficient and effective in connecting and communicating with them.”
Pina was soon recognized for his dedication to diversity and was named a 2011 Boston Business Journal Leader in Diversity. It was then that we knew Network Health had a compelling story to tell and we used this recognition as a launching point. We developed a PR campaign that would highlight Pina’s unwavering commitment and showcase the multiple programs Network Health has created to promote cultural diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As a part of the campaign, we also highlighted the fact that health care reform would result in a dramatic increase in the number of minority patients entering the health care system in 2014, when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is set to take full effect. In other words, embracing diversity would be more important than ever.
The media responded immediately to the campaign. Through carefully crafted storylines, we secured several feature stories for Network Health in mainstream media, UMass Amherst Magazine (Pina’s alma mater) as well as a number of multicultural publications such as OJournal, Southcoast Today and TuBoston.com. We also helped Pina author contributed articles for outlets such as Color Magazine, which highlighted his personal experience with discrimination and views on why diversity is a societal imperative.
In addition, the campaign helped secure further recognition for Pina and his work at Network Health. Most recently he was named a 2012 New England Human Resources Association (NEHRA) Diversity Champion.We’re proud of our work on behalf of Network Health and look forward to sharing the many ways this Massachusetts company is making a difference in the lives of its employees and members.
Jessica Boardman is a senior consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @J_Boardman.