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Shareem Annan: Shaping a Culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace and in Communities

Elevance Health Impact April 9, 2024

Shareem Annan has an appetite for service. She fulfills it through her role at Elevance Health, her volunteer work, and serving up Caribbean American Fusion cuisine, including Jerk BBQ burgers, from her family-owned food truck.

In her role as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategic partnerships director, Annan supports and informs business leaders and associates on inclusive talent practices and promotes a culture that values different perspectives. She also helps develop educational programs, as well as community events, to raise awareness about diversity and fostering a respectful workplace and society.

From her food truck customers to her role as an Elevance Health volunteer phone pal, Annan is passionate about connecting with people. She especially delights in speaking with older adults who live alone as part of her phone pal outreach.

How does your role advance Elevance Health’s purpose to improve the health of humanity?

We are committed to fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace that respects and responds to the unique needs of our associates, members, and communities. My role as DEI strategic partnerships director is to ensure our workforce reflects the diverse backgrounds and experiences of the communities we serve. I lead a team that provides consultation and support to the business units, talent management, and our business resource groups (BRGs) to raise awareness around the connection between diversity, innovation, and business growth. We collaborate with our leaders to manage diverse teams through inclusive practices and cultural humility and celebrate the diverse backgrounds and experiences that make each of us unique with a shared sense of belonging.

Tell us about your volunteerism and why it’s meaningful to you.

I really enjoy volunteering with Elevance Health’s Member Connect phone pal program. This program pairs associates with older adults who live alone and are managing health conditions. Associates call the members regularly and engage them in conversations. This program is meaningful to me because it addresses loneliness and other social concerns many older adults experience. The goal of the program is to improve their physical, psychological, and social well-being. I had an instant connection with one member — he enjoys talking about his grandsons in college, and I talk about my sons in college. His voice lights up when he hears my voice, and he is always grateful for our conversations.

What work accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of recently completing the Health Equity by Design Certificate Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, an opportunity presented to me through Elevance Health. This program was important to me because it addressed the health disparities that exist in underserved communities. I gained valuable insights, tools, and strategies to advance health equity in my role and in the community.

Can you share any fun facts about yourself?

My family owns a food truck, and we are in the process of opening a restaurant in Petersburg, Virginia (right outside of Richmond). The name of the food truck and restaurant is Soul Rebel, adapted from a Bob Marley song. Soul Rebel will not only be a place where people can get great food, but it intends to be a platform for uplifting the community. The cuisine is Caribbean American fusion, offering traditional dishes like jerk chicken, and fusion dishes like jerk BBQ burgers. My husband is the chef and makes all recipes and sauces from scratch. I am not allowed in the kitchen — I help with anything behind the scenes.

What hobbies or activities do you enjoy?

I love to travel with my family. Our most memorable trip was to South Africa, which included a safari experience. I enjoy watching and attending football and basketball games. As a resident of Virginia, I am a fan of Washington, D.C. sports teams — the Commanders and the Wizards. I am also very active in my sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., where I currently serve on the regional and national legislative action committees. One of the legislative priorities that we are advocating for is maternal, child, and reproductive health.

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