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Be open and honest about diversity challenges

Be open and honest about diversity challenges
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Me previous blog post this series focuses on data to analyze how much, or how little, the insurance industry increased diversity over the past five years. In this post, I want to highlight specific examples, both good and bad, directly from the industry. But I also want to dive into the elephant in the room: talk about diversity.

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So many leaders and business cultures are afraid to be honest about their diversity. Society pressure is so strong that companies are often afraid on acknowledge failures in their diversity programs. As companies continue to distort their reality to simply market “diversity”, then they will never improve. It fear make important diversity programs nothing more than PR machines. The only way to move the insurance industry to more diversity is by being open and honest about failures, as much as successes.

Step forward, step backward

Many insurance companies have made visible tre to improve their diversity. AXA, Alliance, MetLife and Zurich all topped Bloomberg’s gender equality index this year. CNA and Nationwide have been recognized by The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. And Liberty Mutual, USAA and Progressive were in the top 50 workplaces for diversity.

At the same time, AIG recently lost four Black of drivers. Before they left, only 1.5% of AIG’s senior officials and executives were black, according to a 2018 report. Most executives did not comment publicly, but Walter Hurdle, responsible for diversity efforts and recruitment of early careers, is quoted as saying that he was ‘informed that my role has been eliminated, and that’s all I have to say.’

While awards and awards are fun to promote, history’s opinion will therefore be determined by real changes on the ground.

COVID-19 and Diversity

COVID-19 could potentially halt diversity progress in the insurance industry. The pandemic is affecting companies in different ways. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) highlights the increase in net income for health insurance companies, while international insurers seems to be struggling. It is possible that insurance companies put diversity in the background while focusing on managing the pandemic. But it would be time and time againd, as tThe creativity and unique views that come from diverse employees can be helpful in this difficult time.

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Show your diversity data: transparency

There is an argument on made that it is the natural way to improve diversity. At the momentdiverse candidates were not nurtured or trained to accept leadership roles. ABecause the training of diverse candidates is a focus, we need to see them promoted and eventually end up in leadership positions over the years.

American family insurance is an excellent example of this kind of initiative. They fixed Business Resource Groups (Abilities, Black / African Americans, Women, LGBTQA, Veterans, and more) to provide input on company initiatives and culture. Which brings me to the importance of transparency.

Last year, Accenture is the number 1 company Refinitiv’s Diversity and Inclusion Index, which identifies the 100 listed companies with the most diverse and inclusive workplaces.

But as I keep saying, these awards are beautiful, but not concrete. The real focus on the increasing diversity in insurance should rather be data. And data is only available when it is made available. This brings me back to my original point at the beginning of this article: transparency.

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Here are Accenture’s published public demographics for its U.S. workforce until 2015. This is how businesses hold themselves accountable. By publishing diversity data, insurance companies can move past, simply market and develop the importance of diversity to make it reale a difference. Accenture, for example, cannot hide the information presented on this page. When investors, governments or the general public question our commitment to diversity, we will have to answer and explain these numbers because they are not hidden.

Most likely, many insurance companies are afraid of what their diversity data will show year-on-year. But before the industry fears failure, it must overcome its fear of transparency. Keeping diversity data hidden can raise the question of how serious managers really are in increasing diversity. Publishing diversity data does not have to be cumbersome. It is merely a measure of improvement. This is the liability that companies fear, but what is the point of all the awards and conferences without liability?

Stay tuned for my third a final blog post of this series, where I will reduce my focus and talk specifically about women in technology. I take my own advice on “transparency” and bring in my personal experiences (as a major in computer science I was the only woman in my class) to highlight the challenges and opportunities facing women in the technology industry.

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