Posted On: April 24, 2020
Centene has revolutionized community wellness by offering affordable, high-quality healthcare solutions and expertly tailoring them to meet the unique needs of every individual and family.
The company has also emerged as a leader in corporate diversity and inclusion, routinely rated as a top employer by various minorities and protected groups. Its commitment to gender equity earned Centene a spot on Bloomberg’s 2020 Gender-Equality Index.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation gave Centene a perfect score on its Corporate Equality Index as well, a national benchmarking tool for evaluating policies and procedures affecting LGBTQ employees. In addition, Centene achieved a score of 100% on the Disability Equality Index, a distinction that further reflects the company’s all-encompassing dedication to diversity and inclusion.
As a healthcare provider, Centene serves the disability community on a regular basis, so keen awareness and sensitivity to unique needs are evident in every client interaction.
“A lot of the people who use our products and rely on our home healthcare solutions have disabilities,” Dan Nielsen, Senior Director, Talent Attraction at Centene explains. “It’s the world we live in to a certain extent, so we are very much in tune with what’s important to them.”
This welcoming approach pervades the talent acquisition efforts at Centene as well. As a federal contractor, individuals with disabilities must make up 7% of Centene’s workforce, but the company shoots for a more ambitious goal of 10%. For Dan, it’s less about regulations and more about establishing a culture.
“I think it’s all about moving away from the compliance-driven stuff and steering more toward building relationships,” Dan says. “I mean real partnerships where you invest your time, talent and treasure, like the sort of relationship we’ve developed with Starkloff.”
Establishing a mutually beneficial partnership with an organization like SDI is a great place to start, but Dan insists proactive steps must be taken to maximize the value of such a partnership.
For instance, representatives from Centene regularly appear at Starkloff events like the Fall Jobs Forum and Spring Resume Cleanup, sharing their talent-acquisition insights and networking with disabled jobseekers. They’ve also adopted a system to ensure applicants with disabilities aren’t lost in the shuffle.
“There’s a member of our recruiting team who’s on deck and ready to guide them through every time we get a Starkloff referral. It’s not really a programmatic thing; it’s just a matter of engaging with these people, working with them to identify needs and communicating these things to the hiring manager,” Dan explains. “It’s all part of a high-touch process to prevent individuals with disabilities from slipping through the cracks.”
Centene encourages its applicants to disclose their disabilities right away and request accommodations without hesitation. This holds true during the hiring process, at each phase of onboarding and throughout the individual’s entire Centene career.
Although it might sound rather cliche on the surface, retaining happy, productive employees with disabilities is often a matter of keeping the lines of communication open and being receptive to new ideas. Dan thinks back to an early interaction with one of his disabled colleagues.
“One of the guys I work with here, Brandon, is a quadriplegic, and the first time I met him he said, ‘Hey, you can touch my hand. That’s my form of greeting.’ And I said, ‘That’s great! Tell me what else to do. Tell me what works,’” Dan recalls.
“This is one thing I witness. Employers are just nervous. They don’t know what to do, they don’t know what to say, they don’t know the terminology, they don’t know if they should shake hands,” Dan concludes. “Just give your applicants and employees the opportunity to take the lead and educate you on such matters, and concerns like these will evaporate.”