The Texas Diversity Council Board of Directors is made up of a multitude of change agents advocating for equal opportunities in the workplace. We want to recognize these individuals for all the work they do within their organizations and their support of the council’s initiatives. To do so, we wanted to sit down and get to know them on a more human level. We will be profiling a member of the board in every edition of our quarterly newsletter.
Up first was Chairman of the Board LaMonte Thomas. LaMonte is the President of Cigna’s North Texas and Oklahoma Markets. As President and General Manager, LaMonte’s responsibilities include enhancing customer satisfaction through personalized service, helping to improve quality of care by working closely with area health care professionals, helping Cigna’s employer clients improve the health and productivity of their workforces and leading Cigna’s community service efforts.
TXDC: How does Cigna’s mission fit with the Texas Diversity Council?
LaMonte: Cigna’s mission is to help improve the health, well-being and sense of security of the individuals we serve. To successfully achieve this mission, we first need to understand the diverse needs of our customers. Like many businesses, we realize that the best way to understand our customers, and deliver solutions that matter to them, is to have a workforce that reflects the people we serve. This seems like a simple concept, but businesses have been on this journey for decades without arriving at the destination. When I think about diversity and inclusion as a road trip, I hear the voices coming from the back seat asking over and over “are we there yet?” Unfortunately, the answer continues to be “no,” and frustration can build up as the trip is detained and diverted with multiple layovers and detours. I view the Texas Diversity Council as a GPS that enables Diversity and Inclusion to navigate around the many road blocks to good business. It can help guide us to better diversity in leadership; equal pay; accountability; recognition of unconscious bias; getting real about change; talent acquisition; networking and visibility. I feel as passionate about the mission of the Texas Diversity Council as I do about Cigna’s mission. They’re actually very similar. Both organizations are committed to valuing people for who they are and treating them respectfully as individuals.
TXDC: How long you have been involved with the council?
LaMonte: I joined the TXDC in 2013 and became board chair in 2016.
TXDC: What about the mission of the TXDC motivates you?
LaMonte: It’s the organization’s absolute commitment to the actual transformation of our workplaces and communities that motivates me. We are taking very concrete steps toward creating an environment where people are valued for their individuality and unique abilities, where they are secure in the knowledge that their efforts make a difference. It’s very exciting to see it coming together. But, as I said, it’s a journey and we’re not there yet.
TXDC: What are some upcoming events?
LaMonte: There are so many wonderful events going on all over Texas that help advance the cause of diversity and inclusion. Here are just a few that are coming up soon. Be sure to check out the full calendar at http://txdc.org/calendar.
September 13 – Montgomery County Women in Leadership Symposium
September 20 – Houston Women’s Conference
September 21 – Greater Dallas College Diversity Summit
TXDC: What is something you like to do outside of work?
LaMonte: I am a model railroad enthusiast. I love creating these little worlds where trains race along their tracks past towns, factories and farms. I can create perfect environments where nothing is out of place, all of the pieces have a purpose and fit together flawlessly, and everything operates in harmony. Yes, it’s a complete fantasy, but it’s also another metaphor for the world I want to help create through my work with the Texas Diversity Council. It’s unlikely we’ll ever create a perfect world, but it’s energizing to think that we can create an environment where all of us “pieces” have a purpose and can fit together and operate in harmony – not just in spite of whatever makes each of us different, but because of what makes each of us different.
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