DURHAM, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) announced a new initiative to expand diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the North Carolina insurance sales workforce. The Health Insurance Agent DEI Initiative consists of investments to help N.C. community colleges launch or expand insurance licensing programs, fund scholarships for eligible students in those programs, and help insurance sales agents hire and retain diverse, qualified talent.
The program builds on the insurer's long-term DEI strategy, which includes expanding insurance sales representation within diverse populations across the state. Health insurance agents play a key role in serving their community by helping individuals and families understand and choose the right coverage plan for their health needs. Blue Cross NC’s approach highlights the importance of insurance agents representing the communities they serve.
“Blue Cross NC’s purpose is to improve the health and well-being of all North Carolinians – and diversity, equity and inclusion is an important part of how we meet the varying needs of our communities,” said Blue Cross NC President and CEO Dr. Tunde Sotunde. “As North Carolina grows increasingly diverse, we’re committed to building a health care system that reflects and serves our members and communities.”
Through strategic partnerships and training, Blue Cross NC’s Insurance Agent DEI Initiative will address common challenges that can hinder the professional success of diverse individuals and organizational DEI progress. These challenges include expanding qualified talent pool availability, increasing recruitment and retainment of diverse employees, improving workplace cultural competence and addressing educational financial hardship.[i]
Building A Diverse and Inclusive Talent Pipeline
As part of its Insurance Agent DEI Initiative, Blue Cross NC will work with North Carolina community colleges to educate, train and license professionals to prepare them for a career in health insurance sales through semester-long education courses.
The company is collaborating with Durham Technical Community College to launch an insurance career program with scholarship opportunities for students in spring 2022. The Durham Tech Insurance Licensing Program offers the pre-licensing education required by the North Carolina Department of Insurance to become an insurance licensee and includes the following courses: Life Insurance, Accident & Health/Sickness Insurance and Medicare Supplement/Long-Term Care/Estate Insurance. In addition to skill-building and training, the program will also connect students with resources and networking opportunities with experienced insurance agents for a more seamless career entry.
To promote a diverse applicant pool for the program, Blue Cross NC is offering 13 program scholarships per semester for five years. Funds will cover the cost of courses, exams and NCDOI fees. Individuals who meet one or more of the following criteria are encouraged to apply for a scholarship:
- Communities of color
- Bilingual (English/Spanish)
- Workers displaced by COVID-19
- People in transition (leaving high school, leaving college or already in the workforce and looking for something new)
For Blue Cross NC scholarship recipients, the program takes 16 weeks to complete its required three pre-licensing courses and Human Resource Development (HRD) components. Students not receiving a scholarship can register for each pre-licensing course individually and will not be required to take HRD courses.
Those interested in learning more about the Durham Tech Insurance Licensing program and students interested in the scholarship opportunity can visit the program website.
Blue Cross NC is also partnering with Central Piedmont Community College (Central Piedmont) in Charlotte to expand the college’s current insurance licensing curriculum with a holistic, DEI approach. The collaboration will focus on casting a wide net to target diverse applicants, provide insurance pre-licensing exam preparation and provide career development resources to successfully position students for job opportunities. The Central Piedmont initiative is expected to launch in fall 2022.
Attracting and Retaining Diverse Talent
In addition to the insurance programs with local colleges, Blue Cross NC is equipping current agents with training content on best practices for more diverse, inclusive and equitable work environments. Agents will receive resources and tools to help attract and retain diverse talent, including a talent pool of newly licensed individuals who complete the college insurance licensing programs.
To learn more about Blue Cross NC’s long-standing commitment to advance diversity, equity and inclusion and drive health equity across the state, visit bluecrossnc.com/dei.