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Employee Spotlight: Cleven DeRamus, empowering his team to stand up for social justice

In 2000, we had the privilege of welcoming Cleven DeRamus to Delta Dental’s Underwriting and Actuarial Team. Since joining the Growth organization, Cleven has worked his way up the ranks and is not only a distinguished member of his team, but a friendly face. We spoke to Cleven about his work in creating an outlet for coworkers who were shaken by the injustices we saw in 2020 and how he honors his own health and wellness.

You’ve been a driver of the Underwriting & Actuarial Diversity Team, how did that come about and what have you accomplished? What has that experience taught you about yourself?

The U&A Diversity Team (U&ADT) was an initiative that was born out of the social injustices in our nation and my peers and I seeking change, not only in our personal space, but also in our workspace and as a department. The U&ADT worked with Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) Manager, Teresa Hairston, to understand the DIB philosophy and mission. We went through a series of trainings to understand unconscious bias, the importance of DIB and how it fits into the business, how to challenge our biases and how to translate our DIB growth to enhance our business and division’s culture. We developed a mission statement and bylaws to govern our team. We are currently in the process of presenting unconscious bias training to our entire division.

We are also developing a quarterly newsletter, offering additional training and creating events where we will seek to partner with employee Inclusion Communities. Our continued goal is to partner with our corporate DIB team to create a work environment that values diverse experiences and perspectives, encourages collaboration and engagement, and fosters a safe and caring community. By living these values, all stakeholders benefit. We are all different and that is our greatest strength.

What advice do you have for other organizations in making strides in diversity and inclusion?

I would advise them not to reinvent the wheel, because there are others that want to help you move forward. Reach out for guidance and support. Be driven by the passion to see change and be patient with the process, as we are all learning and challenging our unconscious biases. Recognize that change begins with us as individuals. Only then, can we move synchronously as a group, under a unified DIB philosophy, to create inclusive policies and practices in everything we do in the workplace.

This year’s Black History Month theme is Black Health and Wellness. What role do you think Delta Dental plays in Black health and wellness?

Delta Dental plays a critical role in Black health and wellness. Our health is a connection of dental and medical, and the diseases that are formidable in our community can be escalated by less than optimal dental care. With access to medical care being an obstacle for Blacks, dental care suffers even more which negatively compounds overall health. With Delta Dental being the largest dental carrier and on the forefront of dental health care we have the brand and resources to make a difference through specific education, philanthropy and social dental care. We have the ingenuity to help bridge that gap and create a sustainable environment of dental care.

How do you take care of your own health and wellness? Why is it important to you?

For my own health, I mainly engaged in cardio activities. As a result of the pandemic and physical therapy, I haven’t really ventured back into gym life yet. However, I am looking forward to it. My health and wellness are important to me because, I’m accountable to myself and those who care about me to not leave my health and longevity to chance.