UnitedHealth Group Blog

Jun 11, 2015

What Does Diversity Mean at UnitedHealth Group


Guest Blog Post by Oron Stenesh, Product Director, Optum Physical Health 

What did you do before joining UnitedHealth Group?
Prior to joining UnitedHealth Group, I was in business school at the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management with a focus on Marketing and Strategy. During this time, I was also one of the national organizers of Reaching Out MBA, a student-run LGBT MBA Conference. Prior to business school, I spent eight years in New York City in the theatre industry.


What is your current role?
I am a Product Director in Optum’s Physical Health business. I have responsibility over our relationship and book of business with UHC E&I.
Optum Physical Health provides chiropractic, physical, occupational and speech therapy, acupuncture, and complementary and alternative medicine network and clinical solutions to our customers. We have the largest national network of physical health providers and run a utilization management program that combines data, analytics and education to help hold providers accountable to delivering evidence-informed care.


Have you had other roles within UnitedHealth Group?
I have been on the Optum Physical Health Product team throughout my three years here at UnitedHealth Group, however, I started in a product development and innovation-focused role. In that capacity, I was leading new product opportunities through the stagegate process (known as Propel) and diving into research and strategy about new markets and opportunities for our business. I’m grateful to have had both pure development and management experiences within the Product function.


How would you describe the culture of UnitedHealth Group?
UnitedHealth Group has been undergoing a cultural evolution over the past 5 years or so. Our values of integrity, compassion, relationships, innovation and performance underpin all we do in service of our mission to help people live healthier lives. What that looks like and feels like to me is focusing on the most important business projects (not being derailed by the small stuff), holding myself accountable (making decisions, not excuses) and working to put myself in the shoes of the people I partner with (being curious to their ideas and perspectives).


How have you seen UnitedHealth Group promote diversity and inclusion?
I have seen UnitedHealth Group promote diversity and inclusion in a myriad of ways. A few examples…from the LGBT perspective, I have had the opportunity to represent UnitedHealth Group in our sponsorship of the Reaching Out MBA Conference (the same one that I organized when I was in school), as well as, initiatives introducing prospective LGBT hires to the organization and our leaders. I am proud of our perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. UnitedHealth Group also promotes diversity of experience and thought. I credit my hiring manager for seeing something different and valuable in my diverse background in the arts that could transfer to healthcare product development.


How does diversity help employees feel empowered here?
At UnitedHealth Group, we are empowered to bring our full selves to work. I received a notebook during orientation that says: “A job shouldn’t define you; it should reflect you.” I love that… it’s a good reminder that we are encouraged to be true to who we are and the unique perspective we bring to the table when engaging in our day-to-day work.


UnitedHealth Group’s five core values are integrity, compassion, relationships, innovation and performance. How does diversity influence and uphold these values at UnitedHealth Group?
Diversity plays a role in all of our values all of the time. Here are just a few examples. From an internal perspective, having a diverse team around you is a key way to drive innovation and performance. The membership that we serve is not one-note, so our team can’t be either. We have to reflect the market as an employee community to be able to invent the future and ultimately drive performance. From an external perspective, that same membership that we are trying to reflect in our ranks…how do we create and deliver products and services that really serve them? We often talk at UnitedHealth Group about how when members engage with the healthcare system, they are at an incredibly vulnerable point in their life – we must be compassionate in how we think about the diverse backgrounds and health needs of our members, and recognize that we may have to think out of the box to deliver with integrity. Above all, relationships. From both internal and external perspectives – the way we are able to build a diverse team, work within a diverse team, and serve a diverse membership, all rests on building and nurturing good relationships.


What advice would you give to a candidate who is applying to join our elite team?
Be authentic (we want to meet you, not the idea of you). Be willing to jump in and ride a steep learning curve (you won’t stop learning here). Be ready to help impact real change in healthcare from a position of scale and scope (get excited!).


What does LGBT Pride Month mean to you? P
Pride is a time to celebrate everyone’s unique perspectives, personalities and lives without apology. How boring life would be if we were all cookie cutter versions of the same thing! Pride is a moment to have a shared experience of appreciation and love without judgment, for everyone. We can all take pride in that unique thing that makes us us and celebrate together; sharing your Pride with others creates a huge potential for us all to be more kind, more generous and more aware.


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