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Terry Bolz, president and Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of Quartz Health Solutions, Inc., says that he is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace because he appreciates the innovation and the problem-solving that occurs when many different insights and perspectives are brought to the table and diverse voices are heard.
“If you’re all the same kind of person – you’re all white males, for example – you see the community in a particular manner,” Bolz tells Madison365. “It’s important that we diversify to get more perspectives. We have been talking and listening and hearing stories about what’s going on in the community in ways that I don’t think we’ve ever had before in the past.
“We’re looking for talented people and if you approach the pool of candidates looking for the most qualified, that would include a very diverse population of people. When you bring in a very diverse population of people, you end up with different ideas, different thoughts, and you’re constantly changing and taking input from people,” Bolz adds. “And so I just think having a diverse workforce is good for business and we made a decision a long time ago that our work force was gonna reflect our community. And part of it is that I think we can provide gainful employment for a very broad and diverse group of people in our community. The community is gonna be a better place to live, too. I think it makes things more interesting, too.”
Quartz Health Solutions manages services for the health insurance plans Gundersen and Unity and provides administrative services for self-funded health plans, while serving 275,000 customers who live in southern and western Wisconsin, parts of Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota from its offices located in Middleton, Sauk City and Onalaska, Wisconsin. Madison365 recently sat down with leaders from Quartz’s Diversity and Inclusion Team to talk about why they think that diversity is important and what initiatives they have been working on to move the needle.
Tom Ward, director of human resources for Quartz, notes that along with the employees, their membership base is becoming more and more diverse.
“So, it’s changing in population. I think the Affordable Care Act and the way that insurance is purchased has changed a great deal and we want our members to feel that our organization and our values are representative of theirs,” he tells Madison365. “That’s a big part of it, as well.”
With that in mind, Quartz has made huge strides over the last decade. Every year, Quartz has increased its efforts in diversity and inclusion strategy.
“We do not have a dedicated person for diversity inclusion, we actually have a Diversity Inclusion Change Team. And what that means is we have individuals from across the organization that serve on the Diversity Inclusion Change Team and they’re volunteer individuals; these are people who are very much committed to diversity and inclusion at all different levels of the organization from management to individual contributor,” Kimila Daniels, Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Quartz, tells Madison365.
The Quartz Diversity and Inclusion Change Team is now 30 people strong and is charged with creating a work environment that is inclusive, welcoming and culturally diverse.
“[They are] what I call diversity and inclusion warriors,” she laughs. “It is a very large team to manage so about a year and a half ago, we developed a strategy team which is a subset of that committee of individuals that helped create a 3-year strategy for our diversity and inclusion initiative and through that process, they created sub-committees to focus on diversity and inclusion touchstones.”
Quartz developed what they called their equity lens model.
“We did a survey with the diversity value index. What are the best practices that are out there in terms of diversity inclusion work? Its difficult work, there’s no playbook that says you’ll get there by this date by doing this, but there are best practices,’ Ward says. “So we developed four touchstones that make up this equity lens model. And then the areas of external – working with the communities and the communities that we serve. The internal touchstone that focuses more on our employee’s knowledge; how could we build their aptitude and support their diversity journey internally.
“Our recruitment is bringing diverse talent into the organization and developing them,” he adds. “And, finally, a supplier diversity initiative that works with diverse suppliers in the community that are identified as disabled-owned business, minority-owned business or veteran-owned business and women-owned business, as well. So those are our four touchstones.”
Each one of those touchstones has a committee that works on the initiatives for the touchstone and that’s where the 30-plus individuals come into play in regards to that.
“At Quartz, we’re very committed to diversity inclusion, We report on our diversity inclusion initiatives to our HR committee of our board and ultimately to our board. They have a very vested interest in that,” Daniels says. “I can honestly say they’ve supported every initiative that we’ve presented to them and just from our entire board to our executive team, everyone is supportive of our diversity inclusion initiative and in moving the needle in that regard.”
Along with Daniels, Diego Campoverde, Senior Marketing Communications Coordinator (Bilingual) for Quartz, was recruited to be part of the Diversity and Inclusion team for the organization over three years ago.
“In that time, I’ve seen seen and witnessed the different positive aspects of having more diverse workforce within Quartz but have also to work toward initiatives with our diverse membership, as well,” Campoverde tells Madison365. “So we have developed so many incredible things here at Quartz but also towards our memberships, as well. We have created diverse advertising campaigns and I’m part of the external touchstone, so we have been able to reach out to more diverse communities, communities of color and diverse advertisements. We’ve also worked on how we can better communicate with these communities and how we can help these communities help understand health insurance.
One of the big initiatives that they’ve created at Quartz is Health Insurance 101.
“It’s a PowerPoint presentation that our members put together with the legal department,” Campoverde says. “They review the presentation and we have translated that presentation into two different languages – Spanish and Hmong. And we have it available in English, as well.
“So our members have gone to different organizations in Madison and in Sauk City to talk about Health Insurance 101 and how it works,” Campoverde says. “We are not selling any insurance, we’re just helping the community understand these very complex topics. So that’s one of the many initiatives that have been developing thanks to these volunteers. We got together, we talked about it and we have this project plan now. We’re sort of tracking our initiative.”
Daniels stresses that Quartz is committed to the entire community.
“It’s not just about sales and customer service in regards to getting membership in, it’s about educating our community on the complexities of health care,” Daniels says. “We care about the health outcomes of our community – the entire community – and so we’ve partnered with Centro Hispano. We’ve gone out to the Urban League and other areas to share the Health Insurance 101 to the community and to make sure they’re well-informed. My mom always says ‘to much is given, much is expected.’ We feel like at Quartz, that’s what we should be doing cause we’re a part of the community and we’re a community-based organization. We’re local and we’re committed to the community in that regard.”
Jennifer Dinehart, assistant vice president of marketing for Quartz, says that Campoverde was the first blingual staff member in marketing when he was hired about five years ago.
“Basically he really helped with the marketing department and trying to figure out how were going to influence what we’re saying to the community. I think we’re one of the first companies, not to toot our horn too much, coming up with a Spanish website that was totally translated for the Spanish-speaking community,” Dinehart says. “We’ve really been interested in that. And I just want to build on the fact that I think it’s so important, even for the company and departments like mine, to have a segment of people who are culturally diverse. I believe that we can do better with anything we do because their experiences are very different and we get a lot of different thoughts into it.”
Diversity, for Quartz, is much more than just racial and ethnic diversity.
“Generally, when you start a conversation about diversity, everyone thinks about what you can see as far as race and ethnicity. Then they go into gender,” Daniels says. “But one thing we talked about a lot here and I think everyone has a good understanding of is it comes in all shapes and forms. I think we have now four generations in our work force. We have staff from the Madison area and then much smaller surrounding communities. So it’s race, ethnicity, it’s age, it’s … you name it.”
“Diversity can be age, it can be culture, it can be a variety of different factors and we’ve been able to find talented people as we take a very broad perspective and a lens on hiring,” Bolz says. “I think it’s been very helpful for our company to make us more successful.”
But there is still much more work to be done, Daniels insists.
“We recognize that it’s an ongoing strategy. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to the end, but we have a lot of work to do as well,” she says. “And I think what’s most important to portray is we are all committed to that work and to that journey. I don’t want to portray we’re perfect and Quartz is the poster child for diversity.”
Helping Quartz employees understand what diversity and inclusion is like is a very important piece of the puzzle, too.
“We have sent a lot of communications internally for employees. We have brought some speakers to talk about diversity and inclusion and we have more speakers coming out,” says Campoverde, who has been a long-time activist in the Latino and gay communities here in Madison. “So helping the employees see their interest in learning about this is very, very, very important for us. And just going to meetings and interacting with them to, it’s very neat. I mean I find it very fascinating because there are people from so many different backgrounds and cultures and races and affinities and such. I think what’s important is we’re all learning together. And what we try to create is a safe space for people to ask questions and to learn.”
Quartz regularly teams up with community collaborators to improve diversity awareness by hosting talks and Q&A’s with its employees. For example, they recently brought in Outreach to talk about LGBT issues and the community and Ho-Chunk Nation. Shiva Bidar from UW Health and Deborah Biddle have also been a speakers.
“And it’s just interaction and listening to the questions from the our employees which is very neat. It’s very good,” Campoverde says. “And it’s a safe space. Sometimes you feel like you’re hesitant about sharing your experience or asking a question but we make sure that it is welcome to everybody and we say so.”
Quartz also has eight hours of community service dedicated for each employee for the year to use at any function that they want.
“We have many different opportunities out there. More often than not, the department will go out and do something together,” Ward says. “It’s a nice opportunity for some comraderie and to help the community as well.”
Bolz has been very supportive of the executive’s teams desire to volunteer its time in the community.
“We do provide every employee with eight hours of volunteer time every year, paid time,” Daniels says. “Terry [Bolz] has been very supportive, and even asked, most recently on our performance review, ‘What are you doing in the community? I mean, where are you volunteering, what are your connections in the community?’
“Me, frankly, I’d never worked for a CEO that’s been interested in that,” Daniels adds. “Just the mere fact that he asked the executive team about that kind of makes you sit up and say, ‘Hey, we’re working for an organization that’s very supportive of my work in the community, whatever that may be.’ For me, it comes in the form of the YWCA, the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, Women United. For someone else, it comes in the form of working with rescuing animals. We’ve got someone that works with the zoo, we’ve got the Ronald McDonald house – it just all comes together really nicely, and to have that support is really good.”
Quartz has also created a mechanism to tell the executive team what values that they would like the organization to have.
“They really came back with three words to describe our values – relationships, responsibility, and respect. And so everything we set out to do involves relationship, respect and responsibility,” Daniels says. “And when you think about diversity inclusion, it’s about relationships. We have a responsibility to it. And it’s about respect – respecting each other and the differences we have, and what everyone brings to the table.
“I think we started the diversity and inclusion journey before we decided on the three Rs,” she adds. “But the three R’s just really fits very nicely with what we’re trying to do with D&I.”
“We’re constantly working on diversity and inclusion. We haven’t solved this riddle in any way yet, but we’re not going to give up on it,” Bolz says. “And we’re going to continue to promote the idea of the need for diversity. I think that it’s good for business and it’s good for the community.”