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Why promoting acceptance, equality and safety matters

June 1, 2023 |3 minute read time

Shawnté Rothschild leaning against a wall

Safety. When you speak with Shawnté Rothschild, this topic comes up frequently. It’s because all her life, Shawnté has been fighting for people (and herself) to feel safe being who they are.

“I was raised with the understanding that as a person of color and a woman, I would have to work harder and be better,” explains the senior manager of the Caremark Federal Employee Program and a 12-year CVS Health colleague.

“But I realized being better wasn’t enough. No matter what I did or how many rules I followed, there were people who saw me as less than human because of the way I look. I knew I had a decision and a fight ahead.”

The mother of three adult children, Shawnté also identifies as queer. But she’ll ask you not to focus on that. She’d rather talk about why she’s an advocate for LBGTQ+ rights and why you should be, too.

Pushing for change in her community

Shawnte’s stance on equity is one of the reasons she serves as national co-chairwoman for Pride+, the 3,000 member CVS Health colleague resource group for the LGBTQ+ community.

“I get calls and emails every week from members and allies; many are people I’ve never met or worked with. They come to me with concerns, questions and accomplishments. It’s a privilege and it’s priceless,” she says, adding a reminder that members of the LGBTQ community often feel frightened in non-accepting environments.

Shawnté extols the fact that CVS Health creates safe spaces for its diverse community through Pride+ and that senior leaders like Dan Finke, executive vice president of CVS Health, and president of Aetna®, are executive sponsors. “Dan creates opportunities by opening doors. It shows tremendous commitment to the LGBTQ community, and it makes a real difference in our workplace,” she explains.

Outside of work, Shawnté’s volunteer record is a long read. At the very top she lists her co-chairman role at GLSEN, a national organization that strives to ensure students K-12 can learn in a safe and inclusive environment regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

“We work closely with administrators, parents and state legislators,” explains Madelaine Adelman, co-founder, and board member of GLSEN Arizona. “Shawnté has chosen our organization as just one of her several investments to create a better Arizona. We’re grateful for her commitment and persistent leadership.”

Also active in Arizona politics, Shawnté uses her voice for wider change in the community. “If you feed someone a fish, they’re satisfied for a day. If you teach them to fish, they’re satisfied for a lifetime. For me, legislative change is teaching people to fish.”

The tough news, she acknowledges, is that change is hard; the easier news is that progress is being made.

“Even at work, I think people are feeling more than ever that they can say, ‘I’m seen, I belong, and I have a voice.’”

Shawnté, thank you for your honesty and your advocacy as we celebrate Pride Month, 2023.

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