UnitedHealth Group announced on Tuesday that Joy Fitzgerald will serve as the healthcare giant's new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.
Fitzgerald succeeds Karen Sachs, who recently retired from the Minnetonka, Minn.-based company. She joins UnitedHealth Group from Eli Lilly, where she most recently served as Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. Fitzgerald also served as chief diversity officer for Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based, aerospace company, Rockwell Collins, where she held other leadership roles focused on learning and organizational development.
UnitedHealthGroup, which operates the nation's largest insurer, declined to provide compensation information about the new role.
"Joy's proven track record of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives will be a significant asset to UnitedHealth Group and represents our continued commitment to advancing equity inside and outside the company," Patricia Lewis, chief human resources officer at UnitedHealth Group, said in a statement. "Joy's expertise in this area will support our mission to attract, develop and grow world-class talent at all levels."
Over her career Fitzgerald has received recognition from several organizations, which included being named to the inaugural list of "Elite 100 Black Women Executives" by Diversity Woman Magazine, recognized on the list of "Most Powerful Black Women in Corporate Diversity" by Black Enterprise and named a "Rising Star" by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association.
Fitzgerald earned her bachelor of professional studies in organizational development from The University of Memphis, and master of professional studies in strategic leadership from the same university, according to her LinkedIn.
Her appointment comes as more healthcare companies reflect on the racial makeup of their C-suite, following activism from the Black Lives Matter movement and disparities highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Humana, for example, named its first chief equity officer at the start of the year. Other health insurers have looked to investments in benefits around the social determinants of health, like access to affordable housing and nutritious food, and policy changes to bridge racial gaps in care. In April, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association unveiled a national strategy to halve racial disparities in maternal care through a combination of lobbying, data collection and community outreach programs.
"I am honored to join UnitedHealth Group and this high-performing team of 330,000 individuals who are working hard every day to make the health system work better for everyone," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "Diversity, equity and inclusion are business imperatives and UnitedHealth Group is making significant strides to continue growing in these key areas, which is part of what attracted me to this company. I am eager to get started."