Mario Barge Reminds Us of Significance of Black History, Culture, and Accomplishments



Mario Barge headshot.

This Black History Month, 福利视频 is highlighting its diverse employees making a difference every day. Mario Barge joined 福利视频 in 2018 and is Vice President, Human Resources Business Partner. He has 20 years of experience in various aspects of human resources (HR) and is also a licensed attorney. Learn more from Mario, including the importance of employee engagement to an organization鈥檚 success, lessons he has learned from his grandfather and children, and his perspectives on highlighting Black culture, history, and accomplishments.聽

Q.听听听听Tell us about your background, your career at 福利视频, and your role as Vice President, Human Resources Business Partner.

A.听听听听I am originally from Ohio and Texas, with parents who worked in corporate America and higher education.聽I have a brother who is five years older than me and we grew up playing sports, primarily basketball, soccer, and track. Recruited out of high school for soccer, I graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., with a bachelor鈥檚 degree in history.聽I also graduated from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, with a Juris Doctorate, and I am licensed as an attorney in Ohio. I am married with two children 鈥 a 16-year-old girl and 5-year-old boy.聽

Over my 20-year career, I have lived all over the country working in various aspects of HR, gaining critical experience in Centers of Excellence (COE), and as an HR Business Partner.聽I have led everything from regional HR needs to COE teams and developing and implementing enterprisewide programs for ADA/FMLA/Leave Management, HR Compliance Governance, Union Avoidance, Office of Federal Contract Compliance, and development and culture-related initiatives.聽 聽聽聽

I have been fortunate to work alongside amazing teams of leaders and HR professionals at 福利视频 as I鈥檝e overseen HR needs for Buckeye Health Plan, MHS Indiana, Absolute Total Care, PA Health & Wellness, WellCare of Kentucky, Michigan Health Plan, and Peach State Health Plan. I鈥檝e focused on the specific culture needs at Buckeye and Peach State, rolling out new culture models for each plan.聽I鈥檝e served as an HR lead for the Pharmacy Operations focused 福利视频 Forward initiative. Today, I oversee HR needs for Peach State Health Plan, enterprise diversity, equity, and inclusion needs, and co-lead the HR Engagement Council.

Q.听听听听What is the most meaningful part of your job?

A.听听听听The relationships I have developed over the past three and a half years. In addition to several other aspects, 福利视频鈥檚 mission and vision attracts amazing talent, and it is incredible to work alongside so many talented people.聽

Q.听听听听Who influenced you most during your career and why?

A.听听听听The greatest influence for me has been my great grandfather, Virdre C. Laws.聽He was a farmer and co-founder of an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Worthington, Ohio.聽He was an amazing man who fiercely loved his family, driving them from Ohio to South Carolina every year to see family during the times of 鈥淪undown Towns鈥 鈥 communities that excluded Blacks and other minorities through discriminatory laws, harassment, and threats of violence 鈥 and 鈥淛im Crow鈥 鈥 laws that enforced racial segregation in the American South.

Despite everything that was put in his path, he always kept a positive attitude, was incredibly resilient, and became very successful, buying land in Ohio and raising a wonderful family. He drove me to school every day and though I may have given him some headaches, I listened and remember everything he told me.聽I鈥檝e applied his advice in my professional and personal life.聽One aspect that stands out was his belief that our relationships are what will always last, so cultivate and protect them whenever you can. That philosophy has served me well.

Q.听听听听How is 福利视频鈥檚 approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion different from other companies?

A.听听听听As a company, we are being more and more deliberate around our mindset for diversity, equity, and inclusion.聽Our commitment to allocating $1 billion toward supplier diversity by 2025, extensive work in building our leave management approach, and our continued focus on diversity programs aimed at developing talent, all serve as examples of 福利视频鈥檚 commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Q.听听听听Can you talk about the importance of employee engagement?

A.听听听听Engagement is critical for our success.聽If we are not engaged, there is a central breakdown in our communication, commitments, focus, and execution.聽We need engagement at the core of what we do to ensure optimal results.聽

Q.听听听听What is the importance of allyship to you, and how can employees be better allies?

A.听听听听Allyship is critical.聽It is the essence of being responsible for one another and having each other鈥檚 back.聽Being a better ally starts with being humble, recognizing what you don鈥檛 know, seeking to better understand and be more informed. Once we know where we can learn, then we can improve and move things forward.聽But first, we must be willing to acknowledge when we don鈥檛 know something in order to grow. I learn so much from my children every day.聽They keep me humble and open.聽My daughter helps me be a better ally every day.聽

Q.听听听听What are your thoughts on the significance of Black History Month?

A.听听听听To me, this month is a celebration and a reminder of everything that has come before me.聽As a man raising a son and daughter, I have a very big responsibility, like so many other parents. As a Black parent, I have the unique responsibility of helping my children navigate this world through our lens.聽Black History Month is an amazing time to have such a bright light focused on our culture, history, and accomplishments.聽It helps remind my children, outside of what Mom and Dad say, the extent of our history and that they truly can accomplish anything.聽