By Jonathan McGoran
Risk & Insurance, February 22, 2020
There are more concrete benefits from diversity and inclusion than ‘doing the right thing’ that are positively impacting the insurance industry.
In recent years, efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in insurance and other industries have become increasingly structuralized, hardwired into most companies’ business models.
In larger companies, it has become common to have a position such as “director of diversity and inclusion” or “chief equality officer.”
For the most part, companies embrace these efforts simply because they are the right thing to do, especially when viewed not just as promoting inclusion but also removing existing barriers to it.
There are more concrete benefits from diversity and inclusion, however, both for individual companies and for the industry as a whole.
1) Reflecting a Diverse Customer Base
“When you look at the data, minority-owned companies are growing at a 70% rate, and 9.1 million firms are owned by women,” said Rodney Johnson, divisional vice president of culture and inclusion at Gallagher.
“When you look at those demographics, that is the telltale sign that we need to make sure that our industry and our company is aligned with those changing demographics.”
He added, “If we’re able to align our company, our organization, our industry to these changing demographics, it does allow us to connect better with our clients, just by being able to mirror what our clients look like.”
2) Deepening Customer Relationships
“If you’re a customer, we definitely want to make sure that you’ll feel that you’re with people who you can relate to,” said Ivy Kusinga, chief culture and talent officer at Chubb.
“So the relateability of the workforce towards the customer proposition and the customer interaction helps us build better relationships.”
3) Diverse Perspectives Bring Diverse Solutions
“Bringing together different minds is how we can develop new ways of thinking,” said Kuldeep Malik, co-founder and CEO, DataCubes.
“For the Insurtech industry specifically, diversity will be what helps us further advance our technologies into the future.”
Johnson agreed: “We also strongly believe that through diversity and bringing in these different perspectives and experiences, ultimately we’re able to provide much better products and services for our clients.”
“The top benefit of having a workforce that reflects the diversity of a company’s client base is directly tied to innovation and business agility,” said Lauren C. Young, AVP, director of diversity & inclusion, Zurich North America.
“When ideas are sourced from a number of diverse perspectives, businesses have the opportunity to better understand and serve their customers.”
4) Attracting and Keeping the Best and Brightest Employees
“The insurance industry has become increasingly competitive for top talent,” said Young.
“Companies that commit to building a diverse workforce within an inclusive environment also tend to commit to the development, advancement and engagement of their talent. This can help enhance morale, boost productivity and improve retention of top talent.”
In addition to attracting talent, inclusive cultures are more able to retain it.
“While it is important to bring in fresh voices, there are benefits to retaining the old ones, as well,” said Young.
“When companies and industries neglect to invest in the diversity of their workforce and the creation of an inclusive culture, employee morale and productivity may decline,” said Young.
“Additionally, underrepresented groups or those who feel their voices are not being heard may become discouraged and leave the organization. It can be costly for businesses to rehire, retrain and retain new employees. This can affect the customer experience and client retention, and ultimately impact the bottom line.”
5) Inspiring a Culture of Loyalty and Community
“If you don’t see the diversity in the workforce around you, it’s harder for you to see yourself growing in an organization,” said PURE Insurance chief human resources officer Katherine Richardson.
“If you look around and no one looks like you, it’s harder to picture yourself in an organization.”
On the other hand, companies committed to inclusion earn employee loyalty.
“When everyone believes that their voice will be heard and their viewpoint is valued, employees feel respected and are willing to go the extra mile to deliver on the goals of the company,” said Young.
Kusinga agreed: “People will give you more if you provide an environment where they feel fueled and empowered.”
6) Providing Access to Programs with Diversity Mandates
“Diversity and inclusion increasingly have a direct impact on business opportunities and outcomes,” said Young.
“Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, for example, recently said the firm wouldn’t take a company public if it has no diverse members on its board of directors. California-based public companies with no women on their boards face a fine. Supporting a diverse workforce can create a competitive edge for many businesses.”
“Sometimes you get in situations where you’re working with public entity or government organizations and they’ll mandate diverse spend,” said Johnson, adding, “But you know, our goal is to look beyond just when it’s mandated.”
7) Staying Current
“We’re trying to make sure we remain relevant, not just today, but projected forward,” said Kusinga.
“What are people going to be caring about? What’s the trend of their insurance needs? The ability to anticipate needs from that broad and very diverse customer base absolutely serves us well.”
The flipside of being proactively forward looking is that failure to do so can leave a company stuck in the past.
“Companies that are the last to embrace it, they’re going to have trouble, not even just in the long term but in the short term,” said Johnson, adding, “I would equate companies not thinking about diversity to companies that weren’t thinking about how technology would impact their business.”
As Richardson sums it up: “I don’t think there’s too many people left in the universe who think that business shouldn’t look like society.”
Jon McGoran is a magazine editor based outside of Philadelphia. He can be reached at email@example.com.