By Taroue Brooks
Tell us about your responsibilities at your job within the insurance industry.
As the Division Advisor in the Government Programs Division at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield I work closely with executive leadership and cross-divisional stakeholders supporting the execution of strategic goals for the organization. This consists of understanding current operations of how we support members and providers through our various insurance plans and initiatives, conducting town halls to provide updates to associates on the progress of our annual plan, and assuring that we are in alignment with governing bodies and regulators within the health insurance industry.
How do you feel that you are viewed as an African American man?
Due to the lack of knowledge I possess in terms of my ancestral heritage, I never truly referred to myself as an African American. As a Black Man in America, on one hand, I feel that I am viewed as a threat to society. My skin color, the way I walk, the vernacular I use, the way I carry myself, and the tattoos I bear may appear to one group as someone that is dangerous. On the other hand, I believe I am viewed as a leader, a king to my family that strives to lead by example, and an individual that serves God, my friends and family, and the communities I am a part of.
How do you navigate through the high level of racism?
Many Black men, especially those working in Corporate America, have learned a survival tactic called “code switching” in which the original definition according to Webster’s Dictionary is “the switching from the linguistic system of one language or dialect to that of another. This is often referred to nowadays as adapting to corporate norms to make colleagues feel comfortable around others from diverse backgrounds. While I may have one way I communicate with friends and family, I have learned over the years to code-switch in order to navigate through unconscious bias and racism I encounter in my personal and professional life. While organizations stress to their associates to “bring your whole self to work,” this is still something that me and plenty of people that look like me are not fully comfortable with.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is an ever-changing target. While I set goals to achieve personally and professionally to define success, I believe that I am my hardest critic. When I achieve a goal, I always reflect on it to determine how I could have done better. From the outside looking in, my peers, family, and friends provide me with constant praise for my successes. At the same time, I feel that if I am comfortable with these goals I set as a success, I may stop trying to push myself towards the next one.
Tell us about your most proud experience as a father.
The current pandemic we are going through has truly been a blessing and a curse for me as a father. While my wife and I welcomed a new addition to our family with our first child, our daughter Harper born on March 12, 2020, we also have lacked the many visits from family and friends one would expect with a baby. Despite this barrier the pandemic created, the proudest experience I have had as a father is being able to work from home and spend a lot of time with Harper. I have been able to wake up with her every day, make breakfast, laugh and play, and see all of her milestones from crawling, walking, talking, and even the greatest pain point parents often talk about, teething! Looking at the positives in life, this pandemic has given me the gift of experiencing these moments as a father.
What is the most difficult thing you have had to overcome?
Growing up in Philadelphia, PA, I have always been close to my friends and family, many of them being within a 1-mile radius and constantly spending time with them. Receiving a job offer to move to Baltimore, MD back in 2017, I had to overcome being away from my close friends and family. I have adjusted since then, and Philadelphia is only an hour and a half drive away, but overcoming that fear to further my career and personal goals is something I will never regret.
Where would you like to see your career in the next five years?
In the next five years, I see myself continuing to climb the corporate ladder and moving into senior leadership. The organization I am with is very family-oriented and contains plenty of opportunities to grow myself personally and professionally. I also see the needs of the communities I serve in Baltimore and around the DMV and would love to continue giving back through volunteerism, supporting non-profit organizations through board service, and pushing the narrative when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Social Media :
Instagram & Twitter – @claypatwhatup
Clayton Corley Jr. is a Division Advisor in the Government Programs Division at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in the Greater Baltimore Area. In this capacity, he works closely with executive leadership and cross-divisional stakeholders supporting the execution of strategic goals for the organization.
Prior to CareFirst, Clayton worked in the financial services industry with The Vanguard Group in Malvern, Pennsylvania as a Senior Sales Consultant and Project Specialist supporting the Retail Sales Division and Strategic Operations Division. He also worked in the public sector as a Program Manager for Communities in Schools of Philadelphia and The Urban Technology Project, an information technology workforce development initiative sponsored by The School District of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor, and The Corporation for National and Community Service.
Additionally, Clayton is a leader within CareFirst, serving as the Co-chair of the Black Professionals Network Associate Resource Group, which is one of many Associate Resource Groups that exist within CareFirst. Associate Resource Groups (ARGs) are associate-led groups formed around elements of diversity such as ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, parents & caregivers, and military status. The Black Professionals Network ARG is currently the largest of all the ARGs within CareFirst, with over 550 active members.
Clayton currently serves as a Board Member of Civic Works and is an active volunteer. He enjoys serving as a mentor to young men, the teens/young adult ministry at his church, continues to support The Urban Technology Project, the organization he served as an AmeriCorps Digital Service Fellow, mentoring the next generation of Information Technology Professionals.
He loves spending time with his wife and daughter, family and friends, cooking, grilling, giving back to the community through educational and social awareness initiatives, and cheering for his hometown Philadelphia Eagles, Sixers, Phillies, and Flyers.