Malakai Corvus Shares How Pride Month Provides Chance to Live Authentically
During Pride Month, Centene is taking time to celebrate progress and achievements while shining the spotlight on its employees. Malakai Corvus joined Arizona Complete Health in 2020 as a Grievance and Appeals Coordinator I and is now a Grievance and Appeals Coordinator II. Malakai also is the Innovation Co-Chair of Centene’s Employee Inclusion Group (EIG) cPRIDE and the Communications Chair of Arizona Complete Health’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Council.
In the following Q&A, Malakai shares how they resolve concerns for members and providers, the importance of Centene’s focus on intersectionality and perspectives on taking time to celebrate progress and achievements during Pride Month.
Q. Tell us about your background, your career at Centene, and your current role as Grievance and Appeals Coordinator II, Arizona Complete Health.
A. I’m relatively new to the health insurance field. I have worked in health insurance for about three and a half years, with about the last two years at Centene. I began my career as a Customer Service Representative, then a Claims Analyst before being hired for a Grievance and Appeals position with Arizona Complete Health. In my current role, I investigate complaints submitted by members and providers regarding any aspect of the member’s healthcare — from eligibility issues to denied claims and more. I work primarily high-profile cases that have already gone to state regulatory agencies. I also assist with training new colleagues and process improvements.
In addition to my “day job,” I am the Communications Chair of the Arizona Complete Health DEI Council and one of the Innovation Co-Chairs for cPRIDE.
Q. What is the most meaningful part of your job?
A. I like to see myself as a problem-solver, and I am very compassionate in nature. That’s why the most meaningful part of my job is when I get to deliver the news of favorable resolution to the member. I truly see myself as improving the health of the community one person at a time. Knowing that I’ve solved a balance billing issue for a member or helped them get their medication in a timely manner is my favorite part of any day.
Q. Who influenced you most during your career and why?
A. There have been so many incredible people in my career who have helped me become a better person, but if I had to name the most influential people it would be our customers. I learn something every day from each interaction I have with our members and providers. They have taught me to be more understanding and to do the deep dives into what the member is experiencing. Our members and providers have shown me we need to not only be solving problems, but preventing them as well.
Q. How is Centene’s approach to DEI different from other companies?
A. What sets Centene apart from other corporations is the focus on intersectionality. Many other companies are now understanding the importance of DEI. However, I have yet to see another company place such an emphasis on how our individual identities overlap and culminate to create challenges along different axes of oppression. In fact, the focus of this year’s EIG planning sessions at the DEI & Health Equity Summit was cross-collaboration between the various EIGs. I’m incredibly excited to see what we all can work toward in the coming year as we focus on intersectionality.
Q. Tell us about why you became involved with the Arizona Complete Health Executive DEI Council?
A. I became involved with the Arizona Complete Health DEI Council as I saw an opportunity to impact real change for employees, members, and providers. While there has been an incredibly successful push toward having our demographics reflective of the community we live and work in, I believe there is room for growth. Additionally, the council is working to raise awareness and challenge stereotypes — a step that I feel is important for building empathy and bringing new allies into the fold. I love working for Arizona Complete Health, and I hope that positive changes and awareness within our company can promote a more equitable world for all Arizonans.
Q. What is the importance of allyship to you, and how can employees be better allies?
A. I identify as a queer non-binary person, among other identities. For me to get close to someone, I need to know that you support me no matter how I identify. To me, allyship means “I’ve got your back” when I come face-to-face with these types of oppression. Your allyship means that I can trust you to support me when times get rough, when I face homophobia or transphobia. As such, allyship is really the basis of all my relationships. I believe that when we all live in common allyship with each other, we can raise the quality of living for everyone in our society.
However, I think we need to move beyond the idea that allyship is enough. Too often we get complacent thinking, “Of course I support gay people, my best friend is gay.” We need to ask ourselves if we’re just supporting the individuals in words or are we also working toward ending their unfair treatment in society? Once we can acknowledge that these pressures are unfairly targeting the individual, we must work toward ending those “-isms.” It is this integral step —moving from understanding to action — that raises one from an ally to an accomplice in each other’s search for collective liberation and equity. Reach out to your friends who have different identities than you, and ask them, “How can I support you? Is there anything more that you need from me?”
One thing that has helped me a lot as far as challenging transphobia in the workplace is having colleagues willing to ask pronouns and advocate for transgender people when they’re in the room. A good friend of mine recently asked me if I would want her to correct people on my pronouns when she hears others use the wrong pronouns. This goes a long way for me to feel accepted and valued — knowing that my colleagues have my back even when I’m not there. It’s a small step, but it’s these small steps that amount to miles of progress.
Q. What are your thoughts on the significance of Pride Month?
A. I think many people who may not be 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual) don’t understand that Pride celebrations are a celebration of life. For so many of us, we have had to hide our identities for much of our lives. It’s only by pure luck that we live in a society and time that it’s okay to come out. These celebrations are a rebel yell to the voices from our childhood that told us we were wrong.
Many 2SLBGTQIA+ folks have survived harassment, abuse, coercive programs to change our sexuality and/or gender, homelessness, a pandemic in the form of the HIV virus, public policies that outlaw our own identities, etc. We live through so much daily, and we need a moment to celebrate the progress and achievements we’ve made so far. Pride Month is a chance for us to live authentically and recharge for the continued fight for equality. This — and every Pride Month — I renew my spirt for our collective liberation from anti-2SLGBTQIA+ hate.