Diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry can only be achieved if it is supported by top management, black executives said during a panel discussion.
Panelists also discussed the importance of establishing allies, appointing a head of diversity, collaborating with others and what they can do in person during a panel on diversity and inclusion at the Kansas City, Missouri-based Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association virtual conference Tuesday .
The WSIA's establishment of the Insurance Industry Diversity Foundation was also announced at the end of the panel discussion.
Leaders must have awareness, empathy and a willingness to listen along with sensitivity, says Oveta Mitchell, New York-based vice president of Axis Insurance Services, a unit in Pembroke, Bermuda-based Axis Capital Holdings Ltd
"Except these qualities, there should be continuous education dedicated to the underlying causes of systemic racism and its affecting people of color, "said Mitchell.
" An important quality is the ability to go out "and act with courage," and not be limited, and not worry about what naysayers say, "said Kevin Men, district distribution manager for American International Group Inc. in Atlanta.
What is needed for a leader is" someone who is willing to do what is right, even if it's inconvenient, "said Richie Henry, chief executive of New York. Chief Information Officer at Markel Specialty (USA Insurance IT), a Markel Corp. entity." As leaders, we need to make the decisions we know deep down in our hearts. is the right thing to do. "
It is also important that leaders are trustworthy," said Terence Meade, Birmingham, Alabama-based senior vice president of AmWINS Group Inc.'s brokerage division.
Henry discussed the importance of allies and said: "We still have a long way to go, but we are making progress."
"When you see something and you know it's not true, you should say something about it, especially if you are in an authoritarian position within the organization. I think you can make a change," he said.
Mr. Men said, "Fortunately, the pendulum is beginning to shift" toward increased Allied participation, "with people moving forward with a desire to provide an additional perspective."
"Right now we have more allies, but we have We have never had anything before, says Kevin Davis, vice president of Worldwide Facilities LLC, which is based in Los Angeles. There is a need to turn fear into action, he said.
"We do not have enough allies," and there is a need to ask people for their support, Mitchell said.
In addition, the importance of diversity officials was discussed. "The role has definitely increased in importance exponentially in recent months," Husbands said.
"It's amazing," but it's important that it's not just a check-the-box exercise, Davis said. It only takes a "no" from a top person if the diversity official wants to do something or invite a speaker to undermine the position.
"It is a very critical role in the organization and in the industry and it is one that must have the agency's power and influence, and we must see more of them," said panel moderator Janet Jordan Fisher, New York-based executive vice president. director of Axis, which is the incoming chairman of Washington, DC-based National African American Insurance Association.
Panelists also discussed the role of middle management in increasing diversity. “It has to start at the top. They need to make it a measurable goal for all management, "said Mitchell.
" Collaboration is very important because it allows the organization to learn what they have done correctly, "Meade said. He added that" while brokers do not have been the first to dive into "this issue, their ability to work together helps put them on a fast track to progress.
" In any relationship, you have to start by having a dialogue, "and it's true in this as well. context, Henry said.
Panelists also discussed what they can do as individuals. This means "educating others, where I can," Meade said.
"Stay engaged" and "have the emotional commitment to what you do," Davis said.
At the end, James Drinkwater, New York-based president of AmWINS Group Inc.'s brokerage division, said that WSIA has formed the Insurance Industry Diversity Foundation.
He said AmWINS is committed to donating $ 1