Q&A: Creating a vision of equity at UCare


UCare recently announced that Joy Marsh will be its Senior Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion.

Marsh takes on a new role at UCare, one that responds to employee feedback regarding increased accountability and leadership in the health plan company’s diversity, equity and inclusion work. Her responsibilities and goals reflect this, including those aimed at advancing health and racial equity among members of the nonprofit and the community it serves, she said.

Marsh will also lead the association’s new equity and inclusion department. Her work with internal and external stakeholders will be data-driven and focused on reducing disparities in how communities access health care, she said.

“We’re looking to understand what some of these barriers might be for people accessing services and then tackling the root cause,” she said.

Marsh joined UCare from the city of Minneapolis, where she was director of the Division of Race and Equity and developed the city’s first strategic and racial equity plan. She also worked at UnitedHealth Group in roles that included business analysis, project management and product owner responsibilities, the statement said. Marsh holds a bachelor’s of science in social science and a master’s degree in special education and teaching from the University of Minnesota, the statement said.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: I would like to start by asking you: what does your new job involve?

A: I’m the Senior Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion for UCare. I have a really exciting role, I collaborate with leaders and [supervisors] and staff and other stakeholders, including the board of directors, to help implement UCare’s vision to become an anti-racist organization. [This] includes examining how we can address health and racial equity disparities within the groups we serve … but also internally within our workforce.

Q: I have a bunch of follow-up questions for all of the points you just mentioned, but let’s start by talking, roughly what is your goal for this role?

A: What’s exciting for me and working with UCare in this role is that it’s not a unified vision – it’s a vision that we are creating together. … But the great thing about UCare is that I don’t have to do it myself. There is a lot of data on health and the racial disparities we face. There is a lot of data on the social and economic drivers of health and the needs of all organizations… to roll up their sleeves and think about what we can do to address these disparities.

UCare, being an organization that [has done that] seriously and for many years, is a great place to, once again, work alongside so many different stakeholders – internally and externally – to develop this vision and understand how we can align our decision making, our processes , our policies in order to ensure that we do everything we can to dismantle institutional racism.

Q: Specifically, what are your goals for identifying and addressing health disparities at UCare?

A: There are many factors – social and economic factors – that contribute to the health of our members within the UCare network. And so what we are able to do is work, once again … with many of these partners from the Department of Health, Health and Social Services, other external organizations to identify what these areas are. disparity, and then align, again, our policies and practices to ensure that we are doing our best to reduce the disparities.

… Part of it is like working with vendors to help increase their cultural congruence and the work they do with the communities we serve. Sometimes that feels like helping support whatever we can to help our members access the kind of preventative services they need, [like] do checkups, get mammograms, things like that. Looking at usage data for members within racial and ethnic groups, looking at people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQIA +, those who may be older, those who live in urban vs. rural. … We are trying to understand what might be some of these barriers that prevent people from accessing services and then tackling those who are the root cause.

Q: How do you plan to foster a diverse, fair and inclusive workplace at UCare?

A: One of the things UCare staff and leaders got into in late 2020 was looking at themselves and doing an assessment of their work on diversity, equity and inclusion. And, really, seek to engage staff and other stakeholders to understand what the current state of UCare is: [does] our culture looks like? What are some of the opportunities? And then, also, what are some of the successes we can celebrate at this point around our diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace right now? …

One of my main areas of interest in stepping into this role is really to build on that. [For example]It’s that level of assessment that has been done, the data that has been captured, and then working with stakeholders from frontline staff throughout leadership to start taking that assessment of the data and making it actionable.

Q: At the end of the day, when you step back from this role, whatever the moment, what impact do you want to have in terms of equity, inclusion and inclusion for UCare?

A: It’s a lifelong job. In my mind, that’s not the kind of thing you get into and a year later say, “Well, it’s done”. I like to believe that as someone who has had a fairly long career in managing complex organizations, I like to believe that my impact [at UCare] really helps provide an operationalized approach to work.

As we think about equity and inclusion and seek to advance health and racial equity outcomes and become an anti-racist organization, it starts with having clarity on our goals in this process. and by an understanding at all levels of the organization around how our decision-making … [helps] realize that vision.

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