(Lisa Silvestre with her daughter Khayla at Seattle's Pride Parade. Photo by Bo Jungmayer.)
My favorite Saturday mornings start like this: I get up early, pull on my sneakers, grab a quick breakfast and head to a fundraising walk.
Whether I'm taking part in a walk to support research in breast cancer or heart disease, I love the sense of camaraderie. Here we are, all these thousands of people from different walks of life, united for a common purpose.
As Premera's Vice President of Accounts and Public Programs Operations, taking part in advocacy events is not part of my job description. But, as a mother, a member of this community and someone who cares deeply about Premera's customers, I consider it an important part of my life.
One of the things that I love about this area is the diversity of the people. People here come from diverse racial, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. There's a vibrant LGBTQ community. Wander through the streets of Seattle and you can hear people talking in a half dozen different languages.
Diversity matters to Premera's clients, too. Companies such as Starbucks, Microsoft, Alaska Air and Amazon understand the importance of a diverse staff. A diverse staff brings new ideas and new ways of thinking. And a diverse staff can better anticipate and respond to the needs of our diverse customer base.
At Premera, our customers represent an incredibly diverse group of people. People of all races and religions, genders and sexual orientations, ages and socioeconomic groups, turn to Premera for care. Our customers' health needs are just as diverse as they are.
That's why it's so crucial for us to establish relationships with diverse populations. We listen to their needs, provide recommendations for care and look for ways to serve them better.
Take for example Premera's participation in the Seattle Pride Parade. 17 years ago, my sister and I started taking our kids to the Pride Parade. My son and daughter were very young but we thought it was a great way to expose them to the idea that love comes in ways other than what they see in their everyday family structure. There are many ways to define families.
A few years ago, when my daughter and I were at the parade, she asked me why Premera was not here and I didn't have a good answer. It became my quest then to have Premera participate.
This year, we became a major sponsor of the parade. More than 200 people from Premera showed up for the walk, parking at our offices and taking a company-sponsored bus to the starting point. We want to be sure that the LGBTQ community knows they have Premera's support -- and that we're focused on their health needs. Premera also had a booth at the Pride Festival where customer service representatives were there to answer specific questions key to the community's needs.
Like many Premera employees, I believe in giving back to the community. I serve on the board of Homage, a group that provides meals, rides and even home repairs to disabled and elderly people. And for the last two years, my daughter and I have joined a team from Premera to paint playgrounds through Seattle Works.
I know that many people at Premera share this mindset. Just last week, I met with a group of new hires. One question came up again and again: How can we give back to the community?
We had plenty of ideas for them.
Lisa Silvestre is the Vice President of National Accounts and Public Programs Operations at Premera Blue Cross.