The Broad Reality of Diversity - Insurance Thought Leadership

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May 12, 2021

The Broad Reality of Diversity

Summary:

As people return to the workforce, candidates with the potential to revolutionize our industry may present themselves.

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Our industry is diversifying, and that diversity has been a force for growth and innovation. Decades of work and progress have yielded more women in leadership roles, a more diverse workforce and a greater emphasis on recruiting talent from varied backgrounds and geographies. Though calls for diversity are not new, organizations are taking the movement more seriously now than ever before, and it is having a positive impact in the operation and growth of businesses.

According to a 2018 study from the Boston Consulting Group, companies that have higher than average diversity in their workforce had 19% higher revenue from enhanced or new products than less diverse organizations. 

As the insurance industry continues to evolve, it will be important to continue to support D&I programs and the opportunities they create for businesses and the workforce. These efforts should also include a willingness to consider recruiting candidates from a diverse array of experiences, trainings, socio-economic backgrounds and more. 

A Personal Journey

In my previous life in television production, working for shows like “One Tree Hill” and “Friday Night Lights,” I learned many of the skills that eventually led to my career in business development, and later as president and chief operating officer with AmRisc.

A degree in broadcast journalism and an early career in TV and film production are definitely rare qualifications for someone in insurance leadership. That said, for me, that background manifested the skills and mindset I needed to operate in a fast-paced environment and think creatively to support business growth. 

How did I find my way into the insurance industry? I was looking to change my career, and my resume serendipitously found its way into the hands of former AmRisc CEO Dan Peed. They were looking for someone who could come in and roll with whatever was thrown at them. That happens to be my strong suit. I was immediately energized and motivated by the work as I grasped more than insurance concepts. I began to understand the legal, accounting, managerial, compliance and operational aspects of the business, as well. 

See also: Diversity and Respect: Best Insurance Policy

My time in television production allowed me to explore my passion for problem-solving and crafting stories. That experience served me well in insurance, where I’ve had an even greater opportunity to flex those same creative and problem-solving muscles. At the same time, as someone who came to insurance from a very different space, I was able to offer a unique perspective the company didn’t have available previously.

A Creative Edge

With our company being founded by engineers – also from non-traditional backgrounds for insurance – it’s fitting that one of our core values is innovation. Imagine the innovation that could come from a team of employees with a variety of diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences and beliefs. Then, add to that the new perspectives and fresh thinking we get from those with different socio-economic backgrounds. These may be individuals whose talents have yet to be discovered as they leave high school or college and enter the workforce. A team like that could have the versatility to not only adapt to unique problems; they would have a plethora of experiences and perceptions to offer the business and contribute uniquely to the growth of their team and organization.

At AmRisc, we’ve started to harness the knowledge and experience of this talent. We began to recruit others outside of insurance, like me, over a decade ago. For example, we have a number of former schoolteachers who have joined the team and have been remarkably successful translating the detail-oriented skillsets they honed in the classroom to our underwriting and analyst teams.  We’ve also recently launched an Innovation Hub, our own version of Shark Tank, to encourage people from all parts of the organization to be seen and heard.

This is just one step. Engaging a range of professionals with varying work experience, cultures, religions and more allows you to build a well-rounded team that can take a company to the next level. Employees who are comfortable in their own skin at work, happy, driven and inspired – who also reflect your consumer base – will thrive, fuel productivity and drive growth.  

Building for the Future

Many in the industry have developed novel programs to foster D&I within their walls. Industry leaders recognize there is tremendous value in empowering and investing in people. At AmRisc, we’ve deployed a Corporate Citizenship Program and DEI Council with our parent company, Truist. We’ve also hosted an incredibly popular Day of Understanding for employees to voice their opinions and concerns and implemented unconscious bias training in an effort to enhance our corporate culture. We even revised our logo to a display of color that demonstrates our commitment to a diversified team and one that values involvement from employees of all genders, races, religions or backgrounds.

As a company and as an industry, we also find opportunities to develop and mold our D&I initiatives through unifying organizations like the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation. IICF’s International Inclusion in Insurance Forum presents a wonderful opportunity for the industry to get together, hear from the top minds in D&I and receive actionable, fresh approaches to incorporate into our own workplaces.

Recruiting for Tomorrow

Anyone who has worked in insurance knows the historic difficulties surrounding the recruitment of new, aspiring talent. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this problem, but the lasting impacts of remote work may prove to be the push our industry needs to recruit geographically diverse talent from different socio-economic and experience backgrounds.

Thus, many industry leaders are taking a closer look at our hiring methodologies and prerequisites. At AmRisc, we are endeavoring to do more. We’re partnering with major universities to recruit talented, diverse candidates with specializations in risk management and beyond. We are looking to secure talent who might not have been considered for a career in insurance due to work history or educational background but who have the drive and energy to help us grow. We’re also exploring flexible work arrangements so those with family, eldercare or other personal responsibilities can better manage their work-life balance.

See also: State of Diversity, Inclusion in Insurance

Right now is the perfect time to consider recruiting with a focus on diverse experiences in addition to unique backgrounds and cultures. As people return to the workforce, a range of candidates with the potential to revolutionize our industry and become the next generation of insurance professionals may present themselves. We have to remain open to recognizing them and embracing the uniqueness they bring to our organizations.

Our industry is built on resilience and serving others when they are most in need. As employers, we must ensure we consider the whole candidate or employee and find ways to encourage them to bring their diverse skills and talents to the office for the good of the company, the industry and society as a whole.

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About the Author

Laura Beckmann is president and chief operating officer for AmRisc where she oversees managing operations, production, learning and development, strategic planning and regulatory compliance. She is an active supporter of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation.

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