When Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska employees (BCBSNE) expressed interest in learning how to support the company’s LGBTQ community, the Diversity and Inclusion Business Council (DIBC) set out to make it happen.

The DIBC, which cultivates an inclusive culture at BCBSNE, created an interactive session on fostering a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ employees, said Felecia Jones, vice president of DIBC membership.

“We tried to think of a speaker who could come and speak to us about the topic,” Jones said. “I immediately thought of a friend I went to college with, Dr. Ron Holt.”

Jones invited Holt, a San Francisco-based board-certified psychiatrist, motivational speaker and co-author of the book PRIDE, to speak at Blue Cross Centre (BCC).

Originally worried about attendance, Jones said the DIBC was pleasantly surprised by the number of BCBSNE employees who came to the session, which covered how to start conversations on sensitive topics, such as coming out.

“We thought, ‘we’ve really done something here,’” Jones said. “We’ve got people talking.”

BCBSNE built on the traction shortly after the session and announced Fearlessly You @ Blue, an employee resource group (ERG) dedicated to supporting the company’s LGBTQ community by working with the DIBC to create a safe, open and inviting culture.

“The DIBC feels strongly that all of our employees should bring their whole selves to work,” Jones said. “We want people to feel comfortable, and we want to let it be known that BCBSNE cares about and includes everyone.”

BCBSNE employee and Fearlessly You @ Blue member Emily Truax said knowing the LGBTQ community has support and a voice at BCBSNE is liberating.

“I’m a real believer in the philosophy that if you can be yourself without hiding or worrying about how people will react or respond to you, you’re happier and more productive in all facets of life,” Truax said. “Having a group like Fearlessly You @ Blue around is a big step towards embracing that philosophy.”

Jones said she’s excited for Fearlessly You @ Blue’s future.

“It’s just amazing that we’ve taken this step,” Jones said. “It all started with one conversation.”

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