Humana’s Shilpa Kale on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Originally published at humananews.com. Humana ranked No. 13 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.

 

This month we celebrate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in partnership with our Humana Asian and Pacific Islander Network Resource Group (HAPI NRG). The API community has a long history in the United States with a large impact on the healthcare industry. Join us all month long on LinkedIn as we celebrate and highlight some of our API senior leaders at Humana.

 

 

 

Meet Shilpa Kale, Lead Cloud Architect, Humana Military Analytics, Co-President HAPI NRG

  

 

What is your “why”? 

I want to be part of a community where everyone feels welcome. I intentionally create an environment where everyone can belong in order to ease their journey and experiences at work and in the broader community.

 

What is the biggest barrier you have faced when taking on leadership roles in business?  

I am who I am and I love who I am. My name, Shilpa, means sculpture. My parents gave it to me so it is meaningful to me. It reminds me of my family. I’m a daughter, sister, wife, and mother. My first mentor explained that who I am makes me unique—my authentic self. I just needed to learn to speak up and provide unique perspectives. Speaking up was not easy for me. It took a lot of courage and still requires some almost each time.

I learned to speak up by speaking up for others. When I spoke up, it was not for me but it was for my peers, my team, my fellow associates and members of my community. After being appointed as Co-President of HAPI NRG, my mentor checked in with me on what I had learned. I said that being a leader has almost nothing to do with leader herself but everything to do with the team she serves and is responsible for.

 

How does Humana support AAPI associates?  

Humana is an inclusive place to work and continues to get better with time. We have a very engaged Inclusion and Diversity team that oversees 9 Network Resource Groups (NRGs), including Humana’s Asian & Pacific Islander (HAPI) NRG.

HAPI NRG’s mission is: “The Asian & Pacific Islander NRG is committed to creating understanding and appreciation of Asian/Pacific Islanders, cultivate new knowledge and skills, celebrate differences within organization, and contribute to Humana’s Mission and Values.”

HAPI NRG provides a brave space for courageous conversations. It represents and celebrates cultures of over 30 ethnicities from Asia/Pacific Islands and allies.

Humana has various leadership programs for high potential associates, such as mentoring, sponsorship, and talent-ready pipelines. Humana intentionally selects new leaders from a diverse pool of associates, including those from the AAPI community.

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in these programs and have grown both personally and professionally. I am proud to work at Humana.

 

What is your advice to AAPI professionals today? 

Based on what I’ve learned by facing my fears to overcome challenges, I’d say, be yourself—your authentic self. Own the vulnerability that comes with authenticity and speak up. Don’t suffer in silence. Be the voice for yourself and for those who are not able to speak up. Your unique perspectives are essential and will improve the community. Lean into your support system of allies. Believe in yourself and have courage.

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