Driving Change at CVS

A SeeHer Series

By Marie Ford, Vice President, Retail Customer Experience, CVS Heath

CVS Health is dedicated to gender equality, and we are intentional in our actions to instill a culture that believes in the value of differences. These actions have put us front and center among Fortune 100 companies in the effort to create an equitable and bias-free future. Nearly 40 percent of our VPs and over half of our managers are women. Additionally, 80 percent of CVS Health’s 8,100 internship participants in 2021 were women. Our CEO, chief people officer, and chief customer officer/co-president are all women. What I appreciate most about having these women leading our great organization is that they are not afraid to get to the heart of cultural issues. They roll up their sleeves, dig in to understand, and take action to ensure a safe and equitable workplace.

We’ve also found that our targeted development programs for women are critical tools that help us boost diverse internal talent. One example is our colleague resource group WISE (Women Inspiring Success & Excellence), for which I serve as executive co-sponsor alongside our CEO Karen Lynch. WISE is a community of passionate leaders uniting our voices to elevate and inspire women. We aim to provide meaningful development experiences, strengthen local relationships that unleash the power of our brand, and create a workforce that represents the communities we serve. We tell every new WISE member we are not just a group, we are a movement. The world is awaiting our power, and together we can be the change we want to see in the world.

It is truly amazing to see the impact on growth and development this group has on our organization. When we don’t see women in leadership roles, it’s so easy for doubt to creep in and for women to feel like they don’t belong. Internal movements like WISE allow us to showcase women in leadership and help build confidence that women belong at all levels of leadership, especially at the top.

CVS has also created an initiative called Strategies for Success — Multicultural Women, which seeks to equip participants with some of the critical skills and tools needed for career advancement. We also integrate diversity into talent reviews, mentorships and sponsorships have become a natural part of our DNA, and WISE is only one of 16 CVS colleague resource groups we offer. We’ve made tremendous progress, and the reality is that we’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible.

As our celebration of Women’s History Month draws to a close, I offer these words of wisdom on creating an equitable and bias-free future: With great privilege comes greater responsibility to pay it forward.

Get beneath the numbers to understand where the gaps are, then act to authentically represent the communities you serve. It’s not about having the right number. It’s about having the right representation. Yes, it’s good for business; yes, representation builds a better connection between colleagues and consumers; and equally important, yes, it’s just the right thing to do.

Women’s History Month is a moment to pause and celebrate, but it is not just a celebration of the past. It is also a moment to appreciate the present and activate the future. Our legacy doesn’t start when we leave this world. It is molded every day as we actively make choices that create our history. So pause, reflect, and ask yourself; are you BEING the change you want to see in the world?

Marie Ford

“Your Dream Must Be Bigger than Your Fear”

Peloton name: MBAGirl

About SeeHer

SeeHer is a global coalition of committed marketers, media leaders, agencies and industry influencers united in the mission to increase the accurate portrayal of women and girls in marketing, advertising, media, and entertainment, so they see themselves as they truly are and in all their potential. Led by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), in partnership with The Female Quotient (The FQ), SeeHer has become the industry’s leading global voice for gender equality in advertising and media. To help benchmark success, in 2016 SeeHer developed the Gender Equality Measure (GEM®), the first research methodology that quantifies gender bias in ads and programming. GEM® has become the global measurement standard, measuring 200,000+ ads, representing 87 percent of worldwide ad spend. SeeHer also developed #WriteHerRight Guides to encourage content creators to address potential blind spots and unconscious biases and integrate more authentic and nuanced depictions of women into their work. To address the specific inequities in the sports and music industries, SeeHer launched two verticals: SeeHer in Sports and SeeHer Hear Her. Gender equality and intersectionality in advertising and media is an imperative. It is good for business and good for society.

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