Creating a culture that values alliance, mentorship and sponsorship of different individuals is a good place to start towards promoting a more inclusive and fair workplace, experts said on Wednesday in an online panel discussion hosted Business Insurance & # 39; s Diversity + Inclusion Institute.
"Employees demand more equity, more inclusion, more diversity," said Dana Lodge, CFO of Everest Insurance Co. "It's just across the board, there's this pent-up demand for change that drives companies to do the right thing. There's a lot of societal pressure that gives companies the financial incentive to do the right thing."
Early in his career, the Lodge saw itself do not go on to the level she is at today, largely because she does not see other black women that she herself represented in top roles.
"I'm pretty sure my ambition at that time was to be a tax auditor for small businesses, "said Lodge." I had fantastic mentors and sponsors who helped me see that vision. I definitely think that representation is very important and in the absence of it requires alliance, mentorship and sponsorship. .. to help people understand what their potential is. ”
Roosevelt Giles, Chairman of BI & # 39 ;s Institute for Diversity + Inclusion and Chairman of the Board of Atlanta Life Financial Group, the country's only black-owned insurance companies, noted that all people in leadership levels of insurance companies, including white male leaders, had allies, mentors, and sponsors in their careers.
"The trilogy happens … and using the trilogy piece can be the first step in making people understand and have a conversation with another person," he said.
Preeti Asthana, director and director of global programs, innovation and partnerships at Aon PLC, said she was "very aware of being the only woman" in the boardroom in many situations and was fortunate to have mentors and sponsors to help her. Throughout her career, Ch led her to give back as a mentor to others.
"One of my early mentors told me, do not apologize for being a woman," she said. "That's exactly what I reflect all the time. If you really want to show what you are and want to get the most out of mentoring, you have to be open to ideas and you also have to make sure you are vulnerable" and open to understanding where your gaps are and how you can fill those gaps, she said.
One of the biggest challenges, Lodge said, is focusing on middle management and helping them look at different candidates, making sure unconscious parties are not included in their performance reviews and that ensure that support and commitment to diversity, inclusion and justice come from the top.
"How do we help support (middle management) during that learning process is something we have identified as a need," she said. the answers, but I think the first step is to identify a need. ”
Companies need to "look at all constituencies and promote and mentor and sponsor all constituencies," Giles said. "But if there is no leadership from above, middle management will look up and say, 'I do not have to do this for me. do not see it above me. ""
Another key holds companies responsible for their actions ̵
"It is important to ask more of the awkward questions" and to support companies that employ women to lead roles and appoint them to boards, says Christina Terplan, partner at Atheria Law PC "We want to support other companies that show movement" rather than "just have a splashy statement on a website and sponsor an event under Women & # 39; s History Month. "
The panel was moderated by Ngozi Nnaji, founder and leading partner of AKO. Insurance Advice.
Here is a recording of the entire webinar.