CHRO ACTION RECORDING: LOOKING BEYOND 2020 - 10/09/20

In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help HR leaders navigate this unpredictable time.

On i4cp’s October 9, 2020 CHRO/HR Strategy Action series call, HR leaders from a wide range of organizations were joined by special guest John Murabito, Chief HR Officer at Cigna. He was interviewed by i4cp Chief Research Officer Kevin Martin. Here are some of the highlights from the conversation:

Combatting system racism and improving equity and equality. In July, Cigna announced actions they were taking to combat systemic racism and improve equity and equality. Murabito began by noting their context: a health services company that serves over 150 million customers around the globe. As such, they feel a responsibility to focus on social awareness and issues that can so greatly impact people's health today. He also noted that their commitment is not a quick flurry of activity, but rather planned out over a five-year period. The initiative is called "Building Equity and Equality" and is focused on communities of color. Given their industry, the first tenet is to improve the health of communities where they work, such as through providing grants to eliminate barriers to health services and to improve access to care. Specific activities in the near term include providing PPE kits to key clients, working with community health leaders to encourage people to visit their doctors regularly, and internally they are expanding their health equity council which focuses on inequities in minority communities. Cigna also has a partnership with Howard University that includes scholarship money focused on individuals working towards careers in public education (e.g., city superintendent roles). And they have committed to having $1 billion in diverse supplier/partner spending by 2025, a sizeable increase from current levels.

Looking to the future population as well. Murabito said another aspect of Cigna's 5-year commitment is their "Healthier Kids for our Future" program. The focus of this program is on food security for urban areas in the US, and in poorer areas outside the US, and is driven in part through school partnerships.

Paid volunteer time as part of total rewards. Murabito described that Cigna has a program called "Use Your Eight," whereby employees are given eight hours of paid time (during work hours) for volunteer activities.

On developing a D&I scorecard. Ahead of a trend in the industry, Murabito noted that Cigna is developing a D&I scorecard that will include basic representation data, results from the Healthier Kids for our Future" initiative, data on community commitments, internal training data, and likely some anecdotal impact statements from the key communities where they work and live.

Lessons learned from a massive acquisition. Last year Cigna combined with Express Scripts in a one of the biggest M&A deals in recent years. When asked about the key lessons learned from that process, Murabito started by emphasizing the importance of change management including how you manage communication around all aspects of the process. Cigna wisely elevated change management and the focus on culture to the steering committee early on. Another centerpiece was determining what the values and leadership model would be across the new, combined organization. Importantly, Murabito as head of HR was involved the M&A process early and often -- something that doesn't always occur consistently at other organizations.

The future of higher education. Martin asked Murabito for his perspective on the future of higher education. He said that the notion of a residential four-year college education will be less of a standard in the future. The cost structure will also need to change given the economy and the shift to more online learning. There has been significant growth in international students in the US, but that will likely be impacted even beyond 2020 due to the pandemic. In terms of skills, Murabito said that a good liberal arts education, that focuses on communications, ethics, and business maturity, will only increase in value.

In addition to this recording, please see the i4cp Coronavirus Employer Resource Center for new research and next practices to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.