HR Leader Connects People
Feb. 1, 2024
Vida Jennings has worked for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina for 21 years. During her tenure she has built her reputation as a problem solver and a person who brings people together. In 2023, she was promoted to become the company’s director of employee relations, diversity and inclusion.
In the new role, Jennings oversees team members across South Carolina and Tennessee. Employee relations works to foster high-trust and high performance by coaching, advising and partnering with leaders and associates to effectively support workplace concerns.
She serves as the company’s equal employment opportunity administrator, ensuring we comply with federal and state regulations. As the diversity and inclusion leader, her team works to foster partnerships that align with our inclusive practices. This aims to attract, develop, retain and advance talent.
One of our initiatives is the Military Business Resource Group (MBRG), which includes more than 100 service members, veterans, military spouses and advocates employed with the company. The MBRG is an opportunity to connect with other similar interested individuals. The group supports military veteran recruitment onboarding, and retention efforts to positively impact our culture.
“We serve as a connecting force to other people,” Jennings says. “Part of that is communicating our commitment to diversity and inclusion as an organization.”
They coordinate communications efforts to share the important work they do. And they sponsor voluntary self-identification campaigns for individuals with disabilities and veterans. This work allows us to provide programming and support for these groups.
Jennings enjoys working with individuals across the company.
“I get to wear different hats on different days, just depending on what's going on. And it's always ‘how can I help?’” she says.
This cross-enterprise work puts her problem-solving, solution-seeking and people-connecting talents to work.
“I like that my role allows me to be all of those things, but here at work,” she says.
Connecting people has been part of Jennings varied career at BlueCross. She previously worked on Medicare contracts at a Blue Cross subsidiary and with Medicaid operations. She has worked with providers and in claims adjudications. She led internal customer contact center trainings and delivered provider workshops.
All of this experience set her up for a move to HR. She took that step in 2005 to a role in learning and development. Her role kept changing resulting in job expansion. She gained additional knowledge and skills. She has worked with diversity and inclusion efforts for more than 10 years.
“Diversity and inclusion are so interwoven into what we do as a business that people don’t necessarily think about it. We’re a lot further on the continuum than people expect,” she says. “We are a partner for employers and employees for workplace culture,” Jennings says. “For us that means a positive work environment, diversity, inclusion, collaboration and social philanthropy. Those are all the things that make us who we are as an organization. We also have a culture of growth because we know people come to this organization not just for jobs, but for careers.”
Her former team helps employees and managers navigate professional development and career growth. Vida’s new role allows her team members to connect managers to both internal and external resources.
There is a lot of opportunity for professional growth here. Her own experience at BlueCross is a testament to that. She advises new employees to learn as much as they can about the company as a whole.
“One of the reasons why I'm still at Blue Cross 21 years later, is because of a conversation that I had with a former vice president. She told me that the company hires good people. If you're not happy where you are, there may be someplace else in the organization where your talents could be better utilized. If you see an opportunity out there in the organization and you think it would be a good fit, apply,” she says.
This focus on connecting people spills over into Jennings’ community efforts as well. She has served on several local boards and currently is a Vice Chair of the Girl Scouts of South Carolina Mountains to Midlands and Chair of the Free Medical Clinic.
“I get to come to a place where I work with incredible people for an organization that is really committed to the communities that we serve and that we do business in. And because service and philanthropy is so important to me, being connected to an organization like this is phenomenal for me,” she says.
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