By David L. Casey, Vice President, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health Organizations are recognizing the importance of strategic diversity management more... Accelerating Innovation through Strategic Diversity Management

By David L. Casey, Vice President, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health

CVS Health

Organizations are recognizing the importance of strategic diversity management more than ever before, because research is showing that companies with the ability to attract and engage a highly diverse workforce see higher levels of innovation and improved financial performance than their peers. In today’s competitive global marketplace, companies recognize that investing in diversifying their workforces, workplaces, and consumer bases is no longer just a social responsibility—it’s vital to ensuring long-term business success and marketplace relevance.

However, to drive meaningful change and fully realize the competitive advantage of an inclusive workforce, companies can’t approach diversity management as a stand-alone objective. Organizations need to take a strategic approach to weaving numerous aspects of diversity into the fabric of the business.

At CVS Health, our commitment to strategic diversity management is deeply rooted in our purpose of helping people on their path to better health. We have found that true innovation is enhanced when we seek out and include the diverse experiences and ideas of our customers, colleagues, and communities. We have developed a four-pillar framework for strategic diversity management that is designed to engage every colleague in the process and enable every business function to deliver on both near- and longer-term goals:

  • Workforce Representation–colleague demographics reflective of the demographics of those we serve
  • Inclusion & Belonging–workplace defined by personal connections, having a seat at the table, and demonstrating genuine care for one another
  • Talent Systems–equitable access to growth and development
  • Diverse Marketplace–exceptional service and stewardship for those we serve and the communities in which we do business

Diverse Marketplace, Workforce Representation, Talent Systems, Inclusion & Belonging

As the nation’s premier health innovation company, we serve millions of patients and customers every day—each of them with unique backgrounds and needs. For our company to thrive, it’s important to have a workforce that reflects not only our customers, but also the communities they live in. CVS Health’s Workforce Initiatives team creates powerful programs and partnerships with state and local agencies, the U.S. Department of Labor, workforce boards, faith-based organizations, and academic institutions.

We have also established Workforce Innovation and Talent Centers (WITCs) to help attract and cultivate individuals interested in careers across our enterprise. WITCs offer a unique and innovative platform to develop workforce solutions attracting potential partnerships to provide CVS Health with diverse and inclusive pipelines of talent. Through effective partnership development and collaboration with government agencies, community organizations, and educational institutions, the WITCs create programs tailored to the specific needs of our partners and the populations they serve. These customized programs incorporate education and on-the-job skill development, while providing exposure to work in a retail environment and, more recently, in the nonretail areas of our business.

As one example, CVS Health’s Workforce Initiatives team manages more than 30 job-training centers around the country, many of which help people with physical, developmental or intellectual disabilities prepare for full-time employment in retail and pharmacy-technician careers, in partnership with the National Consortium of State-Operated Comprehensive Rehabilitation Centers.

Kyle Mendez is one of many individuals with a disability who have participated in CVS Health’s simulated pharmacy program, which provides onsite training and hands-on work experience to prepare individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities for jobs and self-sufficiency. Through AHRC New York City, Kyle was introduced to the simulated pharmacy program being offered at the WITC in New York City. The program includes a seven-week training segment, including orientation, register training, and mock interview preparation, followed by an eight-week internship at a CVS Pharmacy store. The WITC team worked closely with Kyle to help him complete the internship and go on to achieve his goal of becoming a CVS Health colleague.

“When you hear of someone that has a disability, you automatically think the person isn’t capable of doing things effectively,” said Janice Merckling, Kyle’s CVS Pharmacy store manager. “I’ve learned that is an unfair and untrue statement. Kyle truly enjoys helping our customers, and the world would benefit from more people like him. He has set the bar extremely high for the rest of my staff to follow.”

CVS Health Mock Pharmacy

School-based mock pharmacies are an innovative approach in developing an external talent pipeline of students to be exposed to CVS Health Pharmacy Technician training, along with exploration of future careers with CVS Health. The first high school-based mock pharmacy in Georgia, and only the second in the country, opened at Gwinnett County Public School’s Shiloh High School in 2017. The CVS Health Workforce Initiatives pharmacy program at Shiloh provides classroom training focused on pharmacy operations and fundamentals, followed by hands-on training and role playing in the mock pharmacy, as well as a job shadow exercise at a local CVS pharmacy.

CVS Health’s Workforce Initiatives team also includes Talent Pipeline Groups that are tasked with the creation and execution of a departmental strategic framework for targeting specific populations. This organizational structure enables our workforce teams across the country to carry out programs that build nontraditional talent pipelines within the focus areas of military alliances, mature workers, youth, and individuals with disabilities. These collaborative efforts enable us to actively attract, train, hire, and retain qualified individuals from many demographics, based on our workforce needs. As we attract new talent to CVS Health, we also help to break the cycle of poverty for people who may otherwise continue down the road of dependency, which often spans generations. Since the inception of the Workforce Initiatives function more than 20 years ago, we estimate that more than 115,000 people have been moved from public assistance to meaningful career paths at CVS Health.

For example, our STEM-enriched program, myCVS Journey, Pathways to Health Care Careers, is designed to engage young people (ages 5–24) in age-appropriate awareness, exploration, and preparation for health care careers. This is a school-to-career model that begins in elementary grades, spanning middle school and high school, with opportunities along the way to learn about the many career choices available within CVS Health, including pharmacy, professional management, nursing, and information technology. To date, CVS Health has introduced company career paths to more than 1,000,000 young people. We also helped launch SMART (School Health Model for Academics Reaching All and Transforming Lives) in 2013, a program that uses an “active access-active care” model that identifies and addresses physical and behavioral health barriers to academic achievement. The program provides integrative physical and behavioral health interventions to prevent and mitigate health risks for the entire population of the school building, including faculty, to positively affect their health, stress levels, attendance, and capacity for educational impact. Using the SMART model, schools are able to maximize conditions for optimal learning and ultimately, break the cycle of poverty and improve the trajectory of lives.

Shymara Prosser was a member of Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School’s graduating class in 2018, where for the third consecutive year, 100 percent of the graduates were accepted into a four-year college or university. Shymara spent all four years at Cristo Rey as a work-study student sponsored by CVS Health Workforce Initiatives, which is one of several business sponsors at the high school. Shymara followed a rigorous academic curriculum, along with working five days per month at a local CVS store. Cristo Rey faculty members attribute the impressive graduation rates to the valuable work-study program. Shymara is now enrolled at Immaculata University in Malvern, Pennsylvania, planning to become a pharmacist.

CVS Health Workforce Initiatives training program Graduation

On April 11, 2016, the Wilson Workforce & Rehabilitation Center celebrated the graduation of the first four students to complete the CVS Health Workforce Initiatives training program for people with disabilities. Also, the event marked the opening of an onsite CVS Health mock pharmacy at WWRC. The Workforce Initiatives innovative job training program, in collaboration with WWRC, prepares Virginians with disabilities for employment with CVS Health. A two-week training segment teaches customer service, cash register, merchandising, and backroom organization skills. This is followed by a six-week internship at a CVS pharmacy and a week’s training in the application process. Students come from the entire Commonwealth of Virginia to train in the program on campus and then, return to their hometown to find employment. The Wilson Center is one of eight National Consortium State Operated Rehabilitation Centers in the United States.

Alysha Faulkner is a member of the first cohort of students to graduate from a pharmacy technician program offered by CVS Health Workforce Initiatives in collaboration with Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake. Through the program, students are provided real-time career training for cashier, pharmacy technician, and store management positions through an onsite mock store.

“When I enrolled in the pharmacy tech program, I was determined to obtain a certification to add to my credentials and to seek a better career path,” said Alysha. “I soon found that the staff is determined to see students succeed. During my first week of externship at a CVS store, the pharmacist approached me about seeking employment, saying that my work ethic was amazing. I am currently employed with CVS due to my hard work and help from Goodwill. I want to thank everyone at CVS and Goodwill for allowing me to be part of this fantastic career opportunity. Thank you for believing and pushing us to better our career paths with CVS Pharmacy.”

The Workforce Initiatives Difference Chart

To support our company’s growth, we focus on attracting and equipping diverse talent for careers with CVS Health. Our Workforce Initiatives team ensures that youth, mature workers, veterans, and individuals with disabilities have a place within our company. They partner with state and federal workforce agencies to provide employment services and training to underserved communities, and have helped thousands of people access meaningful employment opportunities. We also work with schools, churches, universities, faith-based, and community organizations to hire people with diverse backgrounds.

At CVS Health, we’re continuing to make even greater strides in building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive culture where all colleagues can achieve their potential, contribute, and succeed. Our ongoing commitment and systemic, top-to-bottom approach to strategic diversity management has led to our national recognition as a leader in workforce development and education.

Companies looking to leverage the value of a diverse workforce might want to refer to CVS Health’s Diversity page for ideas regarding how to successfully implement their own strategic diversity management framework

David L. Casey

David L. Casey

Vice President, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer
CVS Health

David Casey is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, having graduated with honors from Indiana Wesleyan University with a BS in Business Administration. He brings over 20 years of experience in talent management and strategic diversity management to his role at CVS.

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