October 5, 2021 Ashley Struble

Kindness Begins With Inclusion

This October, our Shields family is celebrating Global Diversity Awareness Month. Over the last nine years, we have worked hard to develop and maintain Shields’s diverse and inclusive culture. We are proud of the diverse cultures, experiences, and backgrounds our employees represent. To help us celebrate our strides within diversity and inclusion, we asked Jalice Speed, Shields Implementation Manager and Co-Chair of our Black Excellence employee resource group (ERG), BE GREAT, to talk to us about her experience with diversity and inclusion at Shields.

Q: What has your career journey been like at Shields?

JS: My career journey has been nothing short of astonishing as I am an example of the endless opportunity a Certified Pharmacy Technician can have at Shields. I have had so many opportunities to grow my career while meeting and building relationships with many people across our organization and our hospital partners during my employment with Shields.

I started at Shields as a Pharmacy Liaison, and within 11 months, I was proud to be promoted to a Regional Pharmacy Liaison which allowed me to work with another health system partner and continue to learn more about additional medical specialties. Then, I was promoted to Manager of Patient Services, which continued to significantly enhance my professional development by allowing me to work directly with various executive teams on corporate initiatives within Shields and my hospital partners. In addition, I trained other Patient Services Managers, managed two liaison teams across New Jersey, and supported a winning RFP that essentially brought me where I am today as an Implementation Manager supporting the build-out of a health system-based specialty pharmacy.

Q: What opportunities has Shields has given you to expand your skillset?

JS: I have been fortunate enough to receive many excellent opportunities to expand my skillset and further my career with Shields. One example is being given the opportunity to attend a two-day leadership development training led by Shields, Director of HR, aimed at helping me excel in my new management roles. I learned valuable leadership skills in this training, such as conducting a proper interview, performance coaching, nurturing business relationships, and team building.

In addition to leadership development training, I was given the opportunity to further my skill set by attending McKinsey Academy Black Leadership Accelerator Training. During this training, I learned various new skills within business strategy, problem-solving, and business fundamentals. I was also chosen to work with a fantastic team of Black leaders from Shields and McKinsey over the last six months to develop my career further has been a pleasure.

Q: How did you feel when you heard Shields was starting various ERGs? Tell us a bit about why you accepted the role of co-chair for our ERG, BE GREAT.

JS: Following the events and tragic loss of George Floyd, Our Chief People Officer, Annie Maloney, gave me a call to talk about developing ERG’s to support the organization through everyday challenges and adversities. I was honored to co-chair with my colleague, Stephen Davis, and to create a safe space for black employees to engage in open dialogue, foster meaningful relationships with people who share similar backgrounds and experiences, and support each other’s personal and professional advancement.

Q: How do you feel these ERGs have impacted the culture of Shields?

JS: All the ERG’s are a testament to our culture of kindness and teamwork. Members of Employee Resource Groups have immediate access to people across the nation who they can message or give a call for support in so many different areas. Many ERG’s have group chats where members can share what’s on their minds and receive the encouragement they may need to have a meaningful finish to their day.

Q: As co-chair of an ERG, have you been able to make the impact you wanted?

JS: I’ve most certainly been able to have a voice and make an impact with BE GREAT. Our executive sponsor and Shields CEO, Lee Cooper, has encouraged me to be open and honest about the challenges and feelings of Black employees and responded with immediate action. Recently a significant win for BE GREAT and the Shields organization was getting Martin Luther King Day and Juneteenth recognized as company paid holidays. Our ERG was so proud to have been able to make those changes happen!

Q: Have Shields’ diversity initiatives made an impact on the culture?

JS: Shields’ diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have created a safe and welcoming culture where employees can be themselves and embrace their differences. Our initiatives have also given employees the educational tools needed to collaborate with people of different backgrounds. Respect and understanding the various cultures at Shields will always remain a key contributor to our ability to build strong teams that support our partner’s patients.

Q: How does Shields give all people in the company a voice? Any specific examples of this you can think of?

JS: Shields has many efforts to help employees feel like every employee has a voice and that voice can make an impact. One example is our quarterly town hall meetings. During these meetings, the management team opens the floor for employees to ask questions and express their thoughts on company happenings. In addition, there’s a phenomenal HR team in place that remains communicative with managers and staff and completes wellness check-ins over the phone, encouraging employees to share their thoughts and feelings.

We are so proud of the diverse and inclusive culture our employees, like Jalice Speed, have helped us build. As we continue to grow and expand our Shields family, we strive to continue to find ways to allow everyone to bring their authentic selves to work each day.