We recently caught up with Dr. Angela D. Reddix, Founder and CEO of ARDX and recent Leading for Impact award honoree, to discuss retention, deliberation, how conflict can open doors, why individuality is part of the secret sauce, and the business case for doing good.
Deliberate from Day One
Understanding the cost of Medicare and how chronic health can be triggered by lifestyle, obesity, and social determinants of health, ARDX was founded with the understanding of its responsibility to reduce those risk indicators by beginning with the youth in the community. For that reason, a model of corporate social responsibility has been in place since the start.
A Foundation of Engagement
Hiring graduates with Masters Degrees in public health means ARDX is built partially on a foundation of Associates focused on driving toward a positive impact. It also encompasses a base of Associates with technical expertise and experience able to move work forward. “Because our work primarily focuses on the financial aspects of healthcare, our end-users are professionals at the health plans, such as the CFOs, compliance officers, and technical staff. We don’t directly touch the beneficiaries in the community, so our work under our corporate responsibility initiatives allowed our team to engage in the community, thus igniting their passion to serve.”
Over the course of its evolution, hiring has considered the job market, the competitive landscape, and has been thoughtful about the development of its team. “The notion that it is lonely at the top is true so from the start I wanted to ensure everyone felt ownership of their own decisions, that they felt part of what we were doing. An organization is a living, breathing entity and everyone who works here is part of that so from the start, rather than hiring employees, we have sought Associates to be part of our growth path.”
ARDX was awarded its first contract in 2007 and Dr. Reddix said she had to staff quickly and to identify people who embodied the characteristics that would allow doors to open. Built upon core values of Integrity, Integration, Innovation, Inspiration, and Individuality, Individuality became a key focus.
“To have a rich culture and environment and deliver the best products and services takes a mixture of people, a variety of ethnicities, gender, and generations. I am proud to say that within our company we have four generations. We have people who have begun their careers with us and others who have retired from their working careers with us.”
Being intentional about that mix of people and ensuring open communication between distinct individuals and a multi-generational team benefits both the company and the client.
ARDX recently conducted a session on conflict management for its entire team, not because there are issues within the company, but because it hopes to foster an environment in which healthy conflict is embraced. “Conflict is not negative. Even in tough situations, if you avail yourself, you will learn something in the process. For so many, the mitigation strategy for conflict is avoidance but if we can instead get people to be curious, to be interested to hear another perspective without feeling they have to be defensive, we all grow.”
Understanding that it can be the combination of different perspectives that brings innovation, that makes projects and deliverables unique, more effective, and more inclusive, Dr. Reddix embraces that uniqueness and diversity and encourages others to do the same, turning to the value of Integration. “I believe you grow, become smarter, and gain from other perspectives. It is never about where someone stands and what they are supposed to know, it is about what they can take from those around them that will help them grow. That growth makes you a better conversationalist, makes you a great networker and ultimately, opens doors for you and for your organization.”
ARDX has also exercised deliberation in bringing its team together, including an annual kickoff meeting introducing the strategic plan and quarterly performance reviews tied to that plan. “Everyone hears the plan but also gets a printed copy. Putting the plan out there makes me accountable for what I have said we are working towards. As a CEO people may think I am the boss, but I tell people I have more bosses now than I ever had because I am accountable to every individual on the team.”
Within the corporate group, innovation Wednesdays are a chance to come together to bring up operational or other challenges, to work through them together and to take in industry updates. Whether someone is in administration, finance, or somewhere else behind the scenes, ARDX takes the view that everyone should know the language and what is happening within the industry, and understand the business model, so they can better support those working with customers.
ARDX Foundation represents the formalization of the company’s efforts focused on giving back. Programs includes Healthcare Academy ®, which works with youth in the community to teach them about healthy eating and activity and tying that to reducing obesity and bullying, is just one example.
“We started to see an impact with the kids we worked with but realized we needed to reach the women who were decision-makers in the home. We started WWC ® (Women’s Wellness Celebration) as a way to bring women together to learn about being their best selves and how to carry that through to their families.”
In 2018, ARDX turned its focus more broadly, encompassing not just physical health but also mental wellness.
Using her PhD in deliberate practice, Dr. Reddix asked the question: “What would the world be if we transformed communities of poverty into communities of prosperity through the promise of middle school girls? What if we could develop an entrepreneurial mindset for 1,000 little girls who could then employ another 100?” The result was Envision Lead Grow ® (ELG), a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization inspiring middle school girls to become entrepreneurs. Since its inception in 2017, ELG has reached more than 1,282 middle school girls in 31 states with the support of over 9,500 local volunteer hours. In 2020, ELG served over 2,149 girls in 48 contiguous states through summer camps, mentoring, webinars, app-a-thons, and conferences focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) infused with entrepreneurship, leadership, college preparation and workforce development.
“The transformation has been incredible. All these girls need is someone who believes in them; someone willing to be transparent enough to say, ‘what you see in me now was not always the case’. The change is not only in them though, but also in their siblings and in mothers who didn’t graduate from high school or attend college who are now choosing to continue their education because of what they are absorbing from their daughters.”
When we increase economic empowerment in marginalized communities, we create healthier communities and decrease healthcare disparities.
Dr. Reddix went on to say there is a business case for community service, for the notion that you can do well while doing good. “In giving back, in working together outside of project deliverables, people become more creative and become attached to the organization for the depth of relationships they develop. It takes all of us to make this a special place and when we pass that along to the customer and to the community, you are part of something bigger than yourself.”
Retention, a business marker for many organizations, must also consider those people who don’t belong or want to be there.
“The premise of our organization remains what is always has been, focused on the social determinants of health. Without healthcare, none of us would exist. We have the opportunity to impact all five social determinants of health. We are proud that in a small way, the work we are doing matters.”
As a woman- and minority-founded small business, ARDX® has been a leading government healthcare management and technology consulting firm for over a decade. Our long-standing project successes with agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have provided ARDX® with a unique understanding to help our clients navigate the nation’s evolving healthcare challenges. ARDX®’s boutique-style approach of collaboratively working one-on-one with our clients, paired with our deep-rooted knowledge of healthcare legislation allows us to simplify complex regulations, develop seamless communication strategies, and deliver integrated quality outcomes.