Karen Young: Valuing Differences through Inclusion

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While diversity and inclusion are important components to have in every industry, it is especially important to have within the healthcare system. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is making its commitment to inclusion a core strength in significant areas of its business—enterprise leadership, workplace, marketplace, supplier, community, and healthcare equity.

“We know that health care isn’t one size fits all,” says Karen Young, Vice President and Chief Inclusion Officer at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

As a means of growing that commitment, Young leads the Center for Inclusion Initiatives, which has introduced several different strategies. Examples of progress include Eastern Harmony—a program that combines western and eastern medicine practices. With Eastern Harmony, the cultural values and needs of the Asian community are supported through a variety of services.

Another example includes placing accessibility and disability principles at the beginning of a Member Website redesign to ensure that Harvard Pilgrim’s website is accessible for those who are low-vision or blind. Harvard Pilgrim also has a strong commitment to serving the LGBTQ community, providing inclusive care for our LGBTQ members and participating as a business leader in public advocacy.

“Inclusion means valuing differences and creating value through those differences,” says Young. “Each of us has a responsibility to ensure inclusion in everything that we do. It’s not limited to feeling included; it’s about addressing barriers and creating more meaningful engagements in the world.”

For companies that don’t have diversity and inclusion offices, Young recommends reaching out to senior leadership to explain the value and how the company would be able to benefit from it. Show that there is a need and that doors can open with the implementation of a diversity and inclusion business strategy.

For newly-minted Chief Diversity Officers, Young advises, “Focus on progress. Be determined with an unrelenting commitment to progress, business outcomes, [and] people development.”