Achieving diversity: Unraveling the unconscious bias

Key Takeaway: Unconscious bias can prevent an enterprise from gaining the full experience that each individual can bring. Training programs can help managers recognize unconscious bias and create a more inclusive environment.

Ken Burdick, CEO, WellPoint Health Plans

Bias can take many forms, but often, it is unconscious.  Ken Burdick, CEO of WellCare, believes that unconscious bias is the greatest danger in any organization and he explained in a Health Evolution video interview how WellCare addressed the issue.

“It’s not people that are blatantly bigoted or racist,” he said. But they are not comfortable with somebody who looks different or has a different background.

To confront the challenge, WellCare conducted training and he said his executive team found “it’s eye opening because we all have biases. So once we get honest about that and say, this is a part of human nature, it’s not something to run away from, it’s something to understand and then and be more thoughtful about.”

WellCare Health Plans (NYSE: WCG) is a provider of managed care health plans serving 5.5 million. In March, WellCare agreed to be acquired by Centene Corp. (NYSE: CNC) in a deal valued at $17.3 billion. The deal is expected to close in 2020.

In the video interview, Burdick shares the benefits that he believes the enterprise has gained from its diversity education program.

“I know for a fact that we’re a better business when we have diverse people that bring all of their experiences … their childhood, their family background, their cultural passions and interests… There’s a richness … that is well worth the investment that we have to make in getting to know somebody before we immediately pass judgment and decide that maybe what they have to say is not as valuable as what I have to say.” – Gus Venditto