Take Five with Raymond Arroyo, CDO at Aetna, Ranked Among Top Companies in Diversity

Raymond J. Arroyo is a senior member of the Human Resources Executive Group at Aetna, one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies. As Aetna’s Chief Diversity Officer, he leads diversity-related strategies and works closely with senior management to leverage diversity across the business.

Prior to joining Aetna, Raymond was a Diversity executive at Altria Group Inc., then the parent company of Kraft Foods, Miller Brewing, and Philip Morris. While at Altria, he developed and implemented diversity, work/life and affirmative action strategies and initiatives that helped position Altria as an employer of choice and a recognized best company for diversity.

But behind all these accomplishments and titles is an executive deeply connected to his Latin roots. How he relates to others, how he approaches his work, how he finds replenishing energy to fight the good fight every day draws from his heritage as well as from his skills and personality.  Being able to connect personally with everyone he comes into contact with is a high priority for Raymond and it’s why many feel loved when they are around him.  Recently, I had the chance to visit him at Aetna and after getting the download from me on how I was doing personally and  sharing his latest in return, we took five on  some important work related strategies.

Take 1: Aetna has been ranked many times as one of the best companies in terms of diversity. In your own view, what are the key elements that have led to that kind of recognition time and time again?

RA: Aetna focuses on diversity as a business strategy that includes all employees and customers, not just as “diversity allies” but as full partners. We have successfully integrated diversity into all aspects of the workplace and the marketplace. The diverse identities we represent include women, parents, caregivers, teleworkers, Gen Yers, Gen Xers, Boomers, veterans, LGBT, Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and people with disabilities.

Employee Resourse Groups (ERGs) play an important role in our diversity efforts. Open to all employees, the ERGs contribute to an inclusive environment by providing opportunities for employees to share their experiences and expertise, to partner with and give back to their communities, to network with senior management and to learn career-building skills.

Take 2: Aetna is well known for the size and activity of these ERG affinity groups. As you think about how those affinity groups continue to evolve, what do you find most exciting about their presence at Aetna?

ERGs are making a strong and measurable impact in the way that (1) its members demonstrate engagement across the organization and (2) are linked into the company’s business goals. Approximately 14,000 employees belong to ERGs, and they are significantly more engaged than non-ERG employees.  They help Aetna meet its business objectives by providing guidance for creating effective products, services, advertising and information. In addition, the ERG members help us to attract and retain talent, as well as to attract and retain business. Increasingly they’re being leveraged not just within the U.S., but throughout our global locations.

Take 3: Aetna has conducted groundbreaking studies on health care disparities between different groups of people. What do you believe are some of the most important findings, and what is Aetna doing to address the disparities they’ve uncovered?

We know that culturally competent programs targeted to minority populations at risk improve health care outcomes. We are taking the findings from our pilots and studies on issues such as breast health, high blood pressure and prenatal care with a goal of embedding them into our standard clinical programs. Additionally, we have created a dashboard tool that will be refreshed on an annual basis, allowing us to identify disparities in Aetna’s diverse population and then target interventions.

Take 4: Disease management programs have a direct, positive impact on managing healthcare costs. It remains a challenge, however, to effectively engage the Latino and African-American populations in these kinds of programs. What innovative methods is Aetna using to encouraging the members of these groups to engage in health behaviors that benefit them and help manage health costs?

The methods that we have used include culturally and linguistically competent outreach and patient education materials to populations at risk. Additionally, we provided culturally competent training to our clinical personnel. Our studies demonstrate that these culturally competent clinical programs are effective in improving the quality of care of our members who are people of color.

Take 5: You are a co-founder of a network of mostly Latino execs called PRIMER, which has been operating for 8 years. In essence, you created an affinity group for people like yourself across organizational boundaries. What needs or objectives does this network meet?

PRIMER is a network of business and professional leaders that leverages resources to create opportunities, sponsorship and success for its members, Latinos in the U.S., and the Latino community at large. The network enables its members to grow to their full potential and fulfill critical leadership roles throughout the business community and society at large. One vivid example that comes to mind is when PRIMER Vice President Ivy Latimer and The McGraw-Hill Companies in New York sponsored a session on how to increase Hispanic representation on Fortune 500 Boards. Despite a 331% increase since 1993, Hispanics still comprise only 3.1% of all Fortune 500 Board seats and only 1% of corporate America executive officers. At these growth rates, it would take more than 100 years before Hispanics achieve parity. Our own PRIMER member, Charles Garcia, who sits on the Board of Winn Dixie, expertly facilitated the networking session and provided our members with real-life examples of what it takes to join a Fortune 500 Board.


Andrés Tapia is a Senior Partner at Korn Ferry International, a premier global provider of talent management solutions. Previously he served as President of Diversity Best Practices, the preeminent diversity and inclusion thinktank and consultancy. Prior to Diversity Best Practices, he served as Hewitt’s Chief Diversity Officer and Emerging Workforce Solutions Leader. As a published writer and prominent speaker, Andrés offers thought-provoking views about diversity’s impact around the world. He is the author of The Inclusion Paradox – 3rd edition: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity. Find his bio here.


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