Acting on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - Insurance Thought Leadership

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October 27, 2021

Acting on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Summary:

Employers who recognize the importance of these issues will capture talent and inspire the workforce. Those who ignore it are at risk.

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

People don’t necessarily think about a career in insurance from the time they are five years old. So, how do we reach today’s job seekers? Many of them are less interested in job title and more interested in mission. They want to be sure that the organization they join shares their values, beliefs and passions in areas like diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), the environment, social responsibility and governance (ESG), work-life balance and overall wellness.

The dramatic shifts in the workplace environment we’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have brought the insurance industry to an inflection point. Employers who recognize the importance of these issues will capture new talent and inspire their current workforce. Those who ignore it risk losing talent and more.

At the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) 2021 Inclusion in Insurance Forum, we brought together more than 600 industry professionals, executives, DEI leaders and wellness experts from the U.S. and Europe. We focused our discussion on how we can turn our best ideas on DEI, mental health and wellness and the future of work into reality. Then we distilled the key findings from these conversations into a recently released white paper, “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Insurance: Advancing Ideas into Action.”

Here’s a high-level summary of what we learned:

DEI: All voices must be heard

The pandemic-inspired work-from-home revolution opened our eyes to inequalities across workforces, from limited Wi-Fi access and inadequate home workspaces to childcare and home-schooling dilemmas. Add in the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd, and the importance of DEI became a moral imperative worldwide.

See also: The Broad Reality of Diversity

Yet promoting and developing DEI isn’t just the right thing to do. It also creates a stronger insurance organization. Companies with diverse management teams experience a 19% increase in revenue compared with less diverse companies. In addition, companies with greater diversity are 70% more likely to capture new markets.

Because of this, insurance organizations must go beyond simply offering programs. They must make DEI a part of their cultural fabric. Harriet Dominique, chief diversity officer, USAA, said it well: “DEI initiatives must be run as a business strategy just like every other strategy an association undertakes. It needs to be interwoven into everything the association does to realize the maximum benefits.”

To help insurance companies create a more inclusive future, IICF recently formed the IICF IDEA Council, which includes leaders in DEI and human resources from more than 40 organizations. Council members are tasked with working together to share ideas and best practices to find ways to collectively advance ideas into action – for the betterment of the entire industry. The IICF IDEA Council truly captures the heart of IICF’s mission by encouraging insurance companies to come together and put aside competition, with the understanding that what is good for the industry is good for every company in the industry. We’re focused on creating a diverse talent pipeline of future insurance professionals, creating safe and innovative workplaces and building on the valuable partnerships already established with nonprofits through IICF’s philanthropic efforts. 

We’ve already seen one idea start to take flight. IICF has partnered with Indeed to create an IICF Talent Hub where non-traditional job seekers can learn more about insurance industry opportunities, find job search resources, access testimonials from industry employees and view opportunities that might be a fit for them. 

There will be information for companies, as well. The IICF Talent Hub will soon host a webinar with a panel from AIG, Aon and Zurich focusing on the value of apprenticeship programs within the industry and the opportunities they can deliver. For many from underserved communities, finding a promising job can not only change their lives but also improve the lives of their families and potentially improve entire communities. The IICF Talent Hub will also serve as a resource for insurance companies looking to attract new talent into their organizations. Participating employers can post jobs along with detailed information on their company’s culture, ESG commitment and philanthropic work. Our hope is that the IICF Talent Hub will help inspire change and build a more inclusive workforce in our industry. 

Wellness: Employees want help achieving work-life balance

Work-life balance is one of the top areas where employees seek employer support. This balance and support are factors affected by DEI and contribute to helping employees achieve optimal wellness. In fact, 92% of respondents to the 2021 Willis Towers Watson Trends in Healthcare Survey said DEI is important to them when looking at an employer’s overall health and wellness strategy.

The shift to hybrid work environments has opened the eyes of senior management to the fact that flexible scheduling options can energize their employees’ health and happiness in the workplace and at home. It’s up to each organization to decide how they can best support their employees and provide flexibility. A smart way to start is by listening, which we’ve found to be a key factor in creating a culture of inclusiveness and alliance. The more leaders educate themselves and listen before they act, the better allies they become with members of their workforce.

The future of work: Ask your employees for their ideas

None of us know exactly what the future of work will hold. That’s why leaders should look to their employees for insight. As Fran O’Brien, division president, NA PRS, Chubb, puts it, “People will come up with fantastic solutions if you give them the opportunity.”

Today’s employees want to come to work as themselves and be accepted and welcomed. They also crave a deeper connection with their employers. Employees want their companies to be involved in philanthropic pursuits that matter to them personally. And they want to know how their organization’s corporate social responsibility strategy will create a better tomorrow for everyone. 

The deeper companies engage their employees in conversations around these critical issues, the more likely their employees are to point them toward a brighter future.

See also: Designing a Digital Insurance Ecosystem

Carrying our mission forward

These important conversations about DEI, wellness and the future of work didn’t stop at the IICF’s annual forum. We’re continuing the conversation in 2022 at our regional forums in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and London. The forums will help different regions identify inclusion strategies that will work best for their local areas and will provide opportunities for industry members in each region to not only be inspired by these important discussions but to connect and network with colleagues who share their passions. 

In a world where people want to work with mission-driven companies, our industry has a distinct advantage. We are here to serve people in their time of greatest need. By taking bold steps to build a more inclusive workforce, we will carry forward our industry’s noble mission while also building greater business success through more diverse voices and representation.

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About the Author

Betsy Myatt is vice president and chief program officer for the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, as well as executive director for the Northeast Division. Myatt has led IICF’s Women in Insurance Conference Series, now the Inclusion in Insurance Conference Series, since its inception in 2013.

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