Corporate citizenship is more than a smart business move
It reminds us why we do the work we do
You’ve probably heard the phrase corporate citizenship–generally defined as a company’s responsibilities toward society. But have you ever wondered what it really means or why it matters? These are questions I think about frequently. Data indicates that social and ethical governance is good for business. Companies with a reputation for social responsibility boast higher valuations. And a strong, ethical reputation can reduce staff turnover by up to 50 percent–saving time and money that would otherwise be spent on hiring and training replacements.
But it’s not just about business. It’s about people.
I believe it is our responsibility to empower the communities we serve. We apply our experience to support the communities where we live and work, providing grants to local and national organizations, helping families who need medical support, promoting physical activity and investing in affordable housing, food security and other social factors that impact people’s health.
Beyond that, helping others is incredibly rewarding, and a way to remind ourselves why we do the work we do.
Commitment to the Community
The coronavirus pandemic is pushing America into a mental health crisis and, unfortunately, it’s hitting Coloradoans hard. According to a report by Mental Health America, Colorado has the third-highest rate of mental illness in the country. Moreover, Colorado is worse than most states when it comes to treating those who need help, especially in rural areas.
In November 2019, the United Health Foundation (UHF) made a three-year, $1.5 million grant commitment to The Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence to recruit and support 39 currently employed rural nurse practitioners as they return to graduate school and earn a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certificate.
Western Slope Nurse Practitioner Amy Leibli is one of the 39 clinicians working toward certification. “I’ve seen a tremendous increase in behavioral health needs in my community due to the COVID pandemic,” says Leibli. “Many of my patients are struggling with the isolation and lack of socialization.” And, Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence President Ingrid Johnson called the collaboration with United Health Foundation “critical to expanding access to much needed behavioral health care services in rural and underserved communities.”
UnitedHealthcare also looks at bigger picture ways to make a difference, because we know that social factors, such as having access to safe and affordable housing, have a huge impact on a person’s overall health and wellbeing.
With that in mind, our entire enterprise has made affordable housing a priority and in June reached the $500 million mark in affordable housing investments. In Denver, our investment of $14.7 million in housing tax credits paved the way for The Elisabetta, the new 91-unit affordable housing development in the Globeville neighborhood that offers unique services for the disabled. A few years prior to that in Fort Collins, UnitedHealthcare made a $13 million investment to provide affordable senior housing through the 72-unit Legacy Senior Residences.
Our Denver-based health plan has also taken a special interest in promoting outdoor play and exercise to local school children and build an interest in becoming active adults. For some children, the limitation can be as basic as the lack of warm clothes for outdoor play during the fall and winter months. UnitedHealthcare has committed to providing winter coats each fall and bicycles and helmets each spring to underprivileged kids, partnering with local school systems and Denver Broncos players who inspire these kids to dream big, focus on their education and enjoy being physically active. Over the last 4 years, we’ve provided more than 1,000 new coats and 300 new bicycles to children around Denver. These simple things – a bicycle to ride in the summer and a proper coat for the winter – are key to getting kids outside.
Finally, UnitedHealthcare of Colorado is also a strong supporter of the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF), which provides families with seriously ill or disabled children with medical grants to pay out-of-pocket costs not covered by their commercial health plan, no matter which insurance carrier they have. Last year, we hosted an event that raised $80,000, giving a Colorado Springs family the means to pay for multiple surgeries for their son to correct his bilateral cleft lip and pallet.
UnitedHealthcare and other organizations that provide critical services are being called upon to dig deeper and do more during challenging times. We must continue to step up to meet the need. I am proud of the hard work we are doing to support our Colorado communities as they experience a greater need than ever before.
Marc Neely is the CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Colorado and Wyoming.