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2023 Sustainability Report

Environmental, Social, and Governance Reporting: Creating Value, Building Trust

A BCBSRI volunteer packing food into a Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI branded reusable bag.

Our vision to improve health and well-being by leading access to high quality, affordable, and equitable care is our company’s North Star. In this, our first-ever environmental, social, and governance (ESG) report, we share how ESG is woven into the strategy and goals that support our vision and inspire our efforts to build vibrant, healthy communities.

ESG reporting demonstrates how an organization’s strategy creates long-term value for its community. With increasing expectations from regulators and consumers (83% of consumers think companies should be actively shaping ESG best practices, according to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association), it’s clear that ESG reporting can strengthen an organization’s reputation and trust with its stakeholders.

We’re proud to join the ranks of other health insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Elevance Health that produce annual ESG reports.

Materiality Assessment

More than 25 stakeholders were invited to participate in a materiality assessment via survey and/or interview to determine which ESG-related topics they perceive as most “material” to the business and community.

Participants included:

  • More than 20 BCBSRI associates
    • Members of the executive leadership team
    • Colleagues representing all lines of the business
  • Members of our board of directors
  • Community partners

In determining what was most “material,” stakeholders considered:

  • The potential of each issue to impact organizational growth, cost, trust, and sustainability
  • How significant each issue is to our community and stakeholders, including members, providers, business partners, and community members

Frameworks for the assessment:

  • Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Topics identified by our materiality assessment as being most material to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) are highlighted within this report.


We understand the connection between a healthy environment and the health of our members, customers, and community. We’re proud to partner on environmental initiatives with our facilities manager, JLL, an international leader in sustainability practices. As you can see in the SDGs featured below, our environmentally conscious approaches to building operations include waste management, energy and water consumption, and responsible transportation alternatives. We are also committed to investing in sustainable communities throughout Rhode Island.


As Rhode Island's largest local health insurer, established in 1939, BCBSRI has deep and longstanding roots in the community. We know that Rhode Islanders' well-being is influenced by where we grow up, play, live, and work. That knowledge drives our efforts to increase health equity and improve social determinants of health, continually building toward healthier and more vibrant communities for everyone.

Through volunteerism, philanthropy, and partnerships, BCBSRI invests significant resources into Rhode Island's nonprofit community.

Corporate Philanthropy

BCBSRI invests millions annually to support nonprofit organizations through the BlueAngel Community Investment program. This funding helps to advance health equity, increase access to healthcare, and address social determinants of health—all major factors in determining the overall health and well-being of our community. Since 2019, our most significant philanthropic contributions have focused on supporting agencies that promote access to safe, stable, and affordable housing, which is critical to overall health and well-being.

Our Associates

At BCBSRI, our associates are our greatest asset, and we focus on their total well-being. We understand that well-being is connected to a culture of belonging, which in turn is founded upon our core values of collaboration, accountability, integrity, and respect.

For the past three years, BCBSRI has been designated a Providence Business News Best Place to Work in Rhode Island after a rigorous assessment of BCBSRI practices, programs, and benefits and a survey gathering the perspectives of nearly half of our associates.

BCBSRI offers comprehensive health and well-being benefits to our associates, including a competitive salary, ensuring a living wage. Our Rhodes to Well-being program offers activities to help associates initiate or build on healthier lifestyles by focusing on their physical, mental, financial, and social well-being.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

The definition of diversity goes far beyond the traditional categories of race, gender, and ethnicity. It also extends to qualities like diversity of thought and how people show up in the workplace. BCBSRI is committed to embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in order to best serve the needs of our associates, as well as those of our members, customers, and communities across Rhode Island.

In our workplace:

We embrace and value the diversity of our workforce, recognizing that we can be our best only when everyone feels a sense of belonging and is afforded opportunities for success. We measure associates’ sense of inclusion through a nationally recognized engagement survey. Thanks to our multipronged approach to people-focused DEIB programming and activities, BCBSRI scored at least 10 points higher than the highest performing U.S. companies in areas including treating associates respectfully, opportunities for advancement, and authentic commitment of leadership to DEIB. Our diversity council, engagement council, and seven employee business resource groups, reflecting the diversity of our associates, help to support our efforts companywide. Annual DEIB training is required of all associates.

With our suppliers, through our supplier diversity program:

We actively seek and encourage certified minority, women, veteran, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ-owned suppliers from all segments of the business community to participate in our corporate procurement process. We recognize the value of an inclusive procurement strategy as an opportunity to actively join the fight against racial discrimination and create economic opportunities within underrepresented communities. Our Supplier Diversity Steering Committee oversees and coordinates BCBSRI’s activities to grow our supplier diversity program. In 2023, we held our first-ever Supplier Diversity Week to educate associates about the importance of supplier diversity to our strategy, and we recognized vendors and associates with Supplier Diversity Awards.


Board of Directors

Our board of directors, leaders in the healthcare field and the community at large, represents a cross-section of the employers, healthcare providers, and members we serve. Reflecting the broad diversity of our members, customers, and community, the 19-person board includes eight directors who identify as female and three directors who identify as people of color.

Business Ethics & Compliance/Code of Conduct

Our strong compliance and ethics program:

  • Ensures that business is conducted in compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
  • Reinforces our corporate values of collaboration, accountability, integrity, and respect, which also frame our Code of Conduct.
  • Is undergirded by mandated annual trainings.

Our Code of Conduct:

  • Applies to all associates, directors, consultants, and interns.
  • Enables us to build an ethical corporate culture, where associates make business decisions based on shared values.
  • Is required to be reviewed annually by all associates and the board of directors.

Data Privacy

Protecting customer data is critical to our business. It is imperative that we have proper controls in place to protect the personal data our customers and members entrust to us.

The information assurance team ensures that proper controls are in place to protect BCBSRI’s sensitive data, including protected health information (PHI).

The team manages several programs, including:

  • Information risk management
  • Threat and incident response
  • Security awareness and training
  • Information security compliance and monitoring
  • Exception request management
  • Information assurance testing

The privacy office ensures compliance with state and federal laws and regulations regarding the privacy of member information, including PHI, through:

  • Development and monitoring of policies and procedures
  • Privacy training and awareness programs
  • Investigations of potential privacy incidents
Sustainable development goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. BCBSRI believes these goals are critical to the health and well-being of Rhode Islanders and sustainable development in our community.

As part of our commitment to the United Nations SDGs, we have identified six goals that offer the greatest opportunity for impact given their relevance to our business:

No Poverty

No Poverty

  • The RI Life Index, a partnership between BCBSRI and the Brown University School of Public Health, measures Rhode Islander’s perceived and actual experiences regarding their economic situation, food security, access to housing, cost of living, job opportunities, and other social drivers of health and well-being. Index findings inform BCBSRI community investment priorities and provide valuable insights for other Rhode Island community organizations working to improve health and well-being for Rhode Islanders.
  • During 2023, BCBSRI awarded $740,000 in grants to address housing-related health inequities. The 2023 awards extend investments in affordable housing to a fourth year, totaling $8.1 million since we established housing as our primary funding focus in 2019.
  • BCBSRI partners with community organizations involved in advocacy and public policy focused on access to safe, stable affordable housing for all Rhode Islanders.
  • Since 2002, our signature grant program, BlueAngel Community Health Grants (BACHG), has donated more than $6.3 million to support local nonprofit agencies dedicated to improving the health of Rhode Islanders, making a positive impact on more than 336,000 people. BACHG funding is made available through the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Community Health donor-advised fund, maintained at the Rhode Island Foundation.
Zero Hunger

Zero Hunger

  • As part of BCBSRI's healthy meals program offered to customers who have Medicare Advantage plans and also qualify for Medicaid, BCBSRI partners with a local catering company to deliver healthy meals to seniors in need, serving approximately 1,000 meals each month. Additionally, during the winter holidays, another 3,000 meals are served.
  • BCBSRI partners with nonprofit organizations across the state working to eliminate hunger, through philanthropic investments and volunteer support. In 2023, we invested $236,690 in support of programs addressing food insecurity for Rhode Islanders.
  • Each year, BCBSRI organizes an employee fundraising campaign in support of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. In 2023, associates raised more than $20,000 from nearly 250 contributors.
Good Health and Well-being

Good Health and Well-being

  • BCBSRI invests in organizations that provide free, comprehensive medical care to Rhode Islanders who have no health insurance or are underinsured, and cannot afford necessary services, including the Rhode Island Free Clinic and Clinica Esperanza.
  • Your Blue Bus is BCBSRI’s mobile retail storefront, which travels across the state to increase access to BCBSRI services for members. The Your Blue Bus team helps members navigate their insurance plans and other health services. Your Blue Bus also brings vaccine clinics to underserved communities.
  • Retail Stores: Five Your Blue Store locations across the state offer members convenient access to personal service, help in navigating the healthcare system, and free fitness classes, nutrition counseling, and cooking demonstrations.
  • Associate Well-being: Our employee assistance program offered in partnership with Carelon Wellbeing supports associates through life’s challenges and stresses. Associates can connect with licensed counselors, resources for work-life balance, and more. Through our employee well-being reimbursement program, associates may be reimbursed up to $200 each year for fitness activities, events, and equipment.
  • Virgin Pulse: All employer groups including BCBSRI associates have access to this program that incentivizes fitness, good nutrition, and other healthy habits.
Reduced Inequalities

Reduced Inequalities

  • Safe Zones: As part of our commitment to improve members’ health and well-being, we have increased availability of care to the LGBTQ community. More than 100 care facilities are designated as LGBTQ Safe Zones, certifying that they have demonstrated best practices to meet the specific needs of people who identify as LGBTQ+.
  • High-risk Maternal Care Program: This program is designed to help reduce the risk of premature birth, low birthweight, and pregnancy-related complications, particularly among pregnant people of color, and provide support for those experiencing postpartum depression.
  • Youth Mental Health: We are working to achieve a bold goal of supporting the mental health and well-being of 50% of Rhode Island youth (ages 0-17) by 2025.
  • Health Equity Report: Launched in 2023, our report includes data from our Rhode Island adult members and helps us understand and be accountable to address racial and ethnic inequities in several areas of healthcare.
  • Our Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP): This plan provides wraparound services designed to support the unique health needs of members who quality for both Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Colorectal Cancer Screening: We partnered with the Lifespan Community Health Institute (LCHI) to reduce measured disparities in colorectal cancer screening by race and ethnicity among members and to increase the overall screening rate for all racial and ethnic groups to 80% by 2025. (See our Health Equity Report that details these disparities.)
Sustainable Cities and Communities

Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • Blue across Rhode Island, our signature annual day of service, helps agencies to complete major projects to advance their mission and serve their constituents. In 2023, for our 12th year, 520 volunteers served 2,693 volunteer hours in just one day. Since BaRI’s inception in 2012, more than 36,000 volunteer hours have been logged.
  • Associates who primarily use public transportation to commute to and from work are eligible to receive 100% company-subsidized transportation from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Amtrak, and Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority (RIPTA).
  • Along with the City of Providence, we are sponsoring a complete Habitat for Humanity new construction in Providence, which will be completed in 2024! In addition to our $75,000 contribution toward the project, more than 200 BlueAngel volunteers have worked more than 1,000 hours on the home, where a local multi-generational family will be living.
  • BlueAngel volunteers dedicated almost 8,800 hours to support Rhode Island nonprofit organizations in 2023.
Climate Action

Climate Action

  • Waste Management
    • We utilize a single stream recycling and composting process to reduce food waste.
    • Our vegetated roof covers 25% of the total roof area. This helps reduce water runoff burden to the city system and results in environmental benefits such as insulation and air quality improvements.
  • Energy and Water Consumption
    • To reduce water usage, BCBSRI has a rainwater harvesting system in place on the penthouse for the collection, storage, and reuse of rainfall from the roofs, which both reduces demand on municipal sewer system and potable water usage by 15% or 20,000 gallons/year.
  • Alternative Associate Commuting
    • We offer charging stations for electric vehicles at our office and support a robust work-at-home/hybrid work environment to reduce our greenhouse gases.
    • We offer 100% reimbursement to associates who commute to work by bus or rail.
  • LEED Certified Building
    • BCBSRI’s headquarters was certified as LEED Silver new construction 2009 by USGBC. BCBSRI is in the process of contracting for green energy. To continue to conserve energy, BCBSRI uses high-efficiency mechanical and electrical systems, which reduce energy utilization 21% beyond Rhode Island building code requirements, as well as high-efficiency lighting fixtures.

To see the full list of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs goals, visit https://sdgs.un.org/goals.