How the Insurance Industry Is Tackling Systemic Racism

Systemic racism has come to the forefront of our collective consciousness as we struggle as a country to truly address racial injustice and its impact on our society. Along with other industries, the insurance sector is looking at how to tackle systemic racism on various fronts and put into practice diversity and inclusion. Many organizations in our industry came out with messages voicing support of Black Lives Matter, but walking the walk is what will bring real change.

Insurance Diversity & Inclusion Webinars, Virtual Sessions Deliver Insights

Most recently, Business Insurance and the Diversity + Inclusion Institute held an interactive webinar, “A New Era for Diversity & Inclusion: Why the Insurance Industry Needs D&I Programs More Than Ever.” The webinar featured three African Americans who hold executive positions at leading insurance organizations and was designed to begin the difficult conversations around inequities within our industries in order for us to move forward together to effect change. As one of the panelists who has worked in the industry for 38 years stated, “We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go.”

Key takeaways from the participants include

  • Diversity and inclusion start at the board level. We need African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and women of color with a seat at the table. We need board and C-suite buy-ins to broaden the recruiting pool, set measurable actions, and hold people accountable for hiring and promotion practices. In fact, a report, “The Journey of African-American Insurance Professionals,” conducted in 2018 by Marsh & McLennan, found that, “Usually, [senior management] says all the right things, but it doesn’t get practiced at the middle management level.”
  • It’s not enough for organizations to have a diversity and inclusion program if the status quo continues to exist with minorities shut out from executive positions.
  • Senior leaders and mid-level management need to recognize the true talent among minorities in the organization and help mentor and put them into leadership positions. The future can be brighter if we bring more diverse people in senior positions.
  • Gen Z and Millennials will change the face of the industry to reflect society. These two generations unlike their predecessors consider what people can do, not what they look like.
  • Organizations need to implement an ongoing education program about unconscious biases and the impact these biases have in the workplace.
  • Put into place mentorship programs for minorities.
  • Reconsider the way we market the industry, especially to diverse populations and the public, to encourage all individuals, regardless of background, to choose an insurance career path.
  • Change will come either because customers demand it and/or senior leadership will have an epiphany that diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do – for society, the industry, and individual companies.

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping communities and enriching lives, last week hosted “Dialogue for Diversity Live!,” its first virtual leadership program, as a way for the insurance community to continue the conversation on diversity and inclusion. More than 1,000 insurance professionals logged into the session to gain insight on how to work harder and more meaningfully to make sustainable change in the industry.

Next week, on July 14th at 10am, IBANY will be hosting a live webinar focused on diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry. Distinguished’s very own Renée McFadden will be among a panel of senior executives who will share their experience, perspective, and ideas on driving transformative change.

Support for Communities, Black- & Brown-Owned Businesses

Insurers are actively supporting educational programs in cities to provide minorities with the skills and career opportunities required to achieve economic equality. They are also helping racially diverse entrepreneurs and small businesses in the time of COVID-19 to get back on their feet.

Review of Racial Biases in Underwriting

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) was recently asked to examine racial biases in underwriting life insurance to actively counteract the effects of long-term systemic discrimination. In addition, the National African American Insurance Association (NAAIA) and InsurTechNY are holding a virtual event on July 15 for an in-depth discussion of the path to remove race from insurance underwriting. Underwriters, diversity leaders, policy administrators, and others are invited to attend.

On the Distinguished Front

At Distinguished, we are all taking the time to reflect, led by founder and CEO Andy Potash, on recent events and how we can do better individually and as a company to tackle systemic racism in our country, communities, and industry. The recent Juneteenth celebration marked the beginning of our journey, as we began an ongoing dialogue and brainstorming session about how we can be more sensitive, inclusive, and diverse as an organization. Our Distinguished Cares team is speaking with community leaders to see how we can have a positive impact moving forward. Senior executive Renée McFadden will be a panelist on IBANY’s upcoming July 14th Diversity and Inclusion webinar. Don’t forget to register here. We’ll be keeping you updated as our work and commitment come to life.

The insurance industry is integral to each community that makes up the fabric of our country and has an obligation and responsibility to promote diversity, inclusivity, and opportunity.  We’d love to hear from you about how you are making an impact and are part of the change.