CVS workshop tells employees to hold each other 'accountable' for 'non-inclusive' acts

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FIRST ON FOX: CVS Health is holding a "conscious inclusion workshop" that aims to teach employees how to hold each other "accountable" for non-inclusive behaviors, FOX Business has learned.

An internal email obtained by FOX Business showed David Casey, SVP of Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, discussing the four-week program. The first three weeks included 20-30 minutes of self-study per week, leading up to a two-hour virtual workshop in the fourth.

In the email, Casey continues by outlining different "skills" employees will build during the workshop's fourth week. Those included: "Identify unconscious bias in your day-to-day interactions and experiences," "[d]emonstrate bravery by speaking up and having difficult conversations when observing non-inclusive behaviors," and "[c]ommit to holding yourself and your colleagues accountable to consistently embrace diversity of all kinds, and take swift action against non-inclusive behaviors." 

Joseph Goode, who serves as CVS' senior director for corporate communications, told FOX Business on Tuesday the "workshop was announced in July 2020 as part of our nearly $600 million commitment to address racial inequality." He added that "our stated goal is 100 percent employee participation."

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It's unclear how employees would be held accountable and CVS did not comment when asked about this. However, the language seemed to touch on concerns about institutions pressuring people to adopt or advocate certain beliefs.

A CVS Health employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told FOX Business they took offense at the implications behind the training.

"I was brought up to judge people in their actions, not their skin color or anything else," the employee said. "I’ve tried hard not to throw people into categories and then treat them as the worst in said category. Just as someone unfairly judged should be incensed about that judgement, I’m mad about the assumption being made that I judge people just based on looks or where they’re from, and that I need fixing."

Chris Rufo, who is currently rolling out a series of reports about trainings at major corporations, told FOX Business on Tuesday that CVS' program was based on "pseudoscientific nonsense."

"And what does CVS mean by ‘swift action against non-inclusive behaviors’?" he asked. "Will they suddenly tolerate the expression of conservative, traditional, or religious beliefs in the workplace? Of course not. Corporate inclusion is a farce, inspired by ideologues and implemented by morons. CVS is simply another company who has bought the snakeoil of ‘DEI.’"

President and CEO Larry Merlow said last year his company's $600 million investment would "harness the strength of that diversity and focus on the areas where we can have the greatest impact."

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Besides corporationwide trainings, the company intended to "expand [m]entoring, sponsorship, development and advancement of diverse employees." The company's press release highlighted other initiatives as well, such as building on its "supplier diversity" program. According to its website, that program focuses on "partner[ing] with our business units to integrate supplier diversity into procurement activities, and with national organizations to identify and develop diverse businesses."

Last year's investment was a part of the company's overall inclusion efforts. CVS' 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility Report claims that "senior leaders" completed "conscious inclusion training" late in the year. In early 2021, the training was introduced to vice presidents and colleagues and the company began rolling it out to other employees in June.

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The report reads: "Developed in collaboration with leading third-party experts, the program explores the science of bias and where and how it shows up in our business, and it facilitates the development of personal action plans for inclusion."

Under "communicating gender identity," the corporation said it started optional inclusion of pronouns on email signatures and business cards. The report added that it used a field research study to "gather more feedback from colleagues and customers on the use of pronouns on colleague name badges" in retail pharmacies. 

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