1. Why do you believe corporate social responsibility strategy is important for a company?
Improving the health of our community is in our DNA. We were founded as a unique partnership between Aetna and Inova with the main goal of working with local physicians and the hospital system to drive down costs. Preventative health measures, like exercise or getting the proper vaccinations, are a big part of that. That’s why when we are looking to give back we choose to support local organizations like Girls on the Run or the Marine Corps Marathon. Even our Innovation Health Wellness Days, which are free for all our members are intentionally designed to keep our members as healthy as possible. Investing in events and organizations that work to promote healthy living simply makes sense for us. The healthier our community is, the better off we all are.
2. What makes your company stand out compared to other companies participating in corporate social responsibility?
Health plans and health delivery systems (i.e. doctors and hospitals) haven’t been on the same team in the past—often with the health insurance company seen as the villain. The fact is that with different goals, different incentives, and different approaches it’s no surprise there was tension. That environment made it difficult to ensure people and families had access to more affordable health insurance coverage that could improve their health. It also made it hard for health insurance companies to interact with the general public. By coming together with Inova and Signature Partners, our local physician network, we were able to reinvent the way an insurance company relates to the community. We know our members because we are our members. Ultimately, we know what they want most and what their biggest concerns and hurdles to accessing care are. As a company, we’re doing things that no other health plan has ever done.
3. Do you believe contributing back to the community allows your company to have a deeper connection with its clients/customers?
Absolutely, it keeps our executive team and employees aware of the needs of the people we serve. Take for instance our Innovation Health Wellness Days. The entire company attends these events to get a better understanding of our member’s needs and to learn what barriers they are facing in accessing the care they need. Our CEO even goes through the entire screening process himself. Why? So he knows from beginning to end what the process is like for our members. We can’t improve or change things if we aren’t knowledgeable about them. The same goes for the organizations we support. Many of our employees have families in the area and attend local PTA and business organization meetings, so we know the organizations working to help improve our community’s health. This interaction is critical to ensuring we’re meeting the needs of our community.
4. What are some events or causes that inspire you and your team?
Hands down our Innovation Health Wellness Days. Because these are funded entirely by Innovation Health we are invested in every detail of the process. This level of involvement allows us to really think about what our members need and meet with them onsite in a 1:1 setting. This kind of face-to-face interaction is priceless. Each member of our staff learns so much about the population we serve, and because we have full control of the events we can work to improve them each and every time. We’re looking forward to hosting 11 more of these events this year.
5. What advice would you give to companies trying to participate in corporate social responsibility?
The first step is to learn what your employees are passionate about. Having an energized and engaged team to join in the movement will help make corporate social responsibility a part of your office culture. The second critical step is to get to know your community and the markets you serve. By tuning in to what your community needs and what matters to them you have a better sense of how your company can make an impact. Marrying your employee’s passion with your communities needs is the best recipe for a successful CSR platform.