Five actions for a more inclusive insurance workforceBy Tammora Warren | November 12, 2019
For many insurers, attention to diversity and inclusion (D&I) is becoming more important than ever before, as the industry grapples with a wave of retiring workers and the need to attract new talent. That new talent includes Millennials, the most diverse generation of adults in U.S. history.
At the Verisk Velocity D&I Breakfast panel discussion, industry leaders explored the following question: How can insurers attract and retain talent that fully reflects the markets they serve and their increasingly diverse customer base?
The panel featured Susan Johnson, chief diversity and inclusion officer at The Hartford; Margaret Resce Milkint, managing partner of The Jacobson Group; Marya Propis, senior vice president, director of distribution and broker partnerships, at All Risks, Ltd; and Grace Vandecruze, founder and managing director of Grace Global Capital.
While the panelists all agreed on the importance of cultivating a diverse workforce, they offered varying suggestions on how to get there.
- Be intentional: Johnson remarked, “Companies should strike the phrase ‘diverse talent’ from their vocabulary, since ‘diverse’ applies to groups, not individuals. Instead, they should ‘be intentional’ about the qualities they’re looking for when hiring, and cast a wide net for underrepresented groups when warranted. Conversations around diversity can be pigeonholed into discussions of just race and gender, but inclusion must encompass a broader spectrum of identities, backgrounds, educational levels, and other attributes.”
- Be the voice for fairness and balance in teams and talent: According to Propis, employees have an obligation to speak up when they see teams being assembled or promotions handed out in a way that doesn’t advance the goal of a more diverse and inclusive workforce. She added, “One has to take a vested interest in what the talent pipeline looks like and take personal responsibility for pulling talent through that pipeline.”
- Check your job postings for bias: Rather than unfurl a long wish list of employee attributes, which can intimidate some prospective candidates, Milkint suggested creating a streamlined job posting by listing only core requirements. This helps the job appeal to a more diverse candidate base and encourages those with the right skills to apply, even if they may not possess specific kinds of experience. Many on the panel agreed with Johnson’s observations that unconscious bias is pervasive and that the use of software tools that can flag potentially biased words in job postings is of great assistance.
- Be an ambassador for the industry: The social mission of the insurance industry and its ability to rebuild shattered lives can resonate with Millennial job seekers, Vandecruze noted. She believes that we need to spread the message broadly, in order to recruit diverse talent.
- Dig into your company’s demographic data: The discussion ended with a call to the industry to focus on the composition of its workforce, and to accept responsibility and accountability for its progress toward greater diversification.