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Most People Agree Insurance Needs to Be More Diverse. What the IICF Is Trying to Do About It : Risk & Insurance

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Elizabeth (Betsy) Myatt is the Vice President, Chief Program Officer and Executive Director of the Northeast Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF). Myatt has led the IICF “Women in Insurance” conference series, which is now the “Inclusion in Insurance” series since its inception in 2013. [email protected]

Just over two years after the assassination of George Floyd and the calls for social justice that followed, we have finally had the opportunity to come together in person as an industry to talk about DEI and bring ourselves one step closer to a fully diverse, fair and inclusive labor force.

In early June, industry professionals came together to participate in forums to include the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation in insurance forums.

In New York, insurance companies from the Northeast region have come together to share innovative ideas and actionable tips that can help advance the DEI and make the industry a better place. Later this month, other industry professionals did the same in Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas.

We have begun to see the results of the industry’s efforts with regard to diversity, with a smaller gender gap at all levels and more non-white employees in the insurance workforce than previous years.

However, as we have learned over the past few years, a diverse workforce does not always mean that an organization is inclusive or equitable. Speaking at the forum, Nina Boone, head of North America’s D&I division, Korn Ferry, shared that 43% of employees surveyed are reviewing their work because their company is not doing enough in terms of DEI.

IICF recognizes the importance of promoting DEI and knows that the insurance industry is the best and can have a greater impact when we come together and work together for change. Below are some of the key ideas voiced at the forum, which detail how to promote equity and inclusiveness throughout our industry.

Inclusive sustainability

The definition of DEI is constantly expanding. Nina Boone of Korn Ferry married DEI and ESG at her session on inclusive sustainability. She discussed the idea of ​​“it” and how “it” can be seen as harmful micro-aggression in the DEI.

At the beginning of the pandemic, when the supply chain was first disrupted and the world was closed, people asked, “How long do you think ‘it’ will last?” While most spoke of a pandemic, the issue also applies to DEI initiatives within organizations. People wondered how much more their organization would look for diverse pools of candidates, or how long their organization would prioritize diversity.

Boone turned the script around and asked, “What if we take ‘this?'” Reaching out to different candidates and encouraging people to share how they differ can only help organizations bring new ideas and approach issues from a different perspective. . She urged leaders to believe that their entire team is capable, to believe that everyone is capable of learning, developing and expanding their contribution.

The science of inclusion

Dr. Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the Stern School of Business Management and Organizations, New York University, shared an important insight into the science behind inclusion, during his remarks.

Many organizations now use artificial intelligence-based face recognition products, both in their offices for security purposes and in their products. Although many of these products boast 90% accuracy, they are often still biased towards women and non-white people. Such products, Dr. Van Bavel noted, demonstrate how too rapid scaling of innovation can leave companies open to bias or blind spots.

Such biases and blind spots are so important to different teams of people. Different opinions and points of view ensure that bias is reduced and blind spots are shown and corrected.

Next, Dr. Van Bavel discussed the importance of diversity, but only if group members feel included. Psychological security is the ability to be yourself, including making mistakes, without fear of negative consequences for self-image, status or career. To succeed in teams, it is important to have psychological security and compassionate leaders.

He urged leaders:

  • Prefer other voices
  • Bring each other to justice
  • Start with one
  • Find a pattern and be a role model

We continue DEI Momentum

Cheryl Rosario, Head of DEI & CSR, Munich Re encouraged industry professionals to continue the DEI momentum.

When George Floyd was assassinated in 2020, it sparked a social movement that lasted until 2021 and until 2022. This social movement has pushed many insurance industry organizations to prioritize the promotion of DEI, but like many others, Rosario has wondered how long this momentum will last.

In August 2020, the PEW research center found that 52% of Americans believed it was very or unimportant for companies and organizations to make public statements on political or social issues, but that percentage rose significantly for people of color. Many organizations have leaned toward this commitment by taking steps to invest in historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) or other social justice organizations.

Although there was an idea, these investments were not always made in a sustainable or genuine way. Rosario stressed that committing is not always enough, it is also important to see responsibility and results.

The sense of inclusion and justice is drastically reduced, and thus Rosario has encouraged leaders to turn to people’s thinking, above all, to maintain the dynamics of DEI in a sustainable and genuine way.

Good intentions for effective change

Michelle Silverthorne, author of the bestseller, keynote speaker, founder and CEO of Inclusion Nation, concluded the event with a session dedicated to translating good intentions into action and moving forward in the work of transformational change.

Silverthorn shared a scenario where the bar has an assistant legal counsel, a lawyer, two judges, a firefighter, a doctor and a bartender. At the end of the script, she asked the group if any of these people represented women or non-white people. The meaning of this exercise was to show how we, as a society, were conditioned to attribute a certain gender and race to certain professions and classes.

Silverthorn has urged the audience to be the ones to make those changes. She shared that many people want change to happen, but that they don’t want to change themselves or do the work to make a change. As an industry that helps and influences many, Silverthorn has called on everyone present to take action that can help make a difference.

Although the industry has done a great job over the last few years to become fairer and more inclusive, we still have a long way to go.

IICF works every day to unite the industry to make the world a better place through initiatives and projects coming out of our IICF IDEA Board and various committees. However, many times it is the conversations and learning that follow from convening as an industry in forums like this that really help to promote ideas in action. &



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156 Comments

  1. At the beginning of the pandemic, when the supply chain was first disrupted and the world was closed, people asked, “How long do you think ‘it’ will last?” what a nice question

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