By Max Dorfman, Research Writer, Triple-I
At JIF 2022, a panel convened to discuss the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the insurance industry.
Jennifer Kyung, Property & Casualty (P&C) chief underwriter, USAA and Triple-I Chair, moderated the discussion, which focused on a wide range of issues, including the talent gap.
“We need to focus on talent in the insurance industry and ensure that talent is diverse,”; Kyung said in his introduction. “We have hundreds of thousands of jobs that we need to fill, and we need to fill them with people who have the best skills.”
For Roosevelt C. Mosley Jr., principal and consulting actuary, Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, the approach to DEI has a significant impact. Mosley noted that it’s a sensitive issue, with people having different interpretations.
“We all have differences,” Mosley said. “But we have to recognize that we are different, and if we are going to serve different communities, we also have to be different.”
“Bringing more diverse talent to the industry is good, but it’s not enough,” Mosley added. – They must feel included. We haven’t completed the process if they don’t feel included.”
For Traci Adedeji, president-elect, CPCU Society, “diversity is differences that exist whether we choose to call them out or not.”
“A DEI strategy really needs to be baked into an organization’s DNA,” Adedeji said. “That’s what you want your culture to be.”
Adedeji added that equity and inclusion require intentional actions within an organization.
“When I think about DEI, it’s about taking into account all the key stakeholders,” said John Tribble, vice president, Agency Operations and Business Development, Church Mutual. “When I think about diversity, it’s simple: Does leadership have the foresight and willingness to step into situations that are uncomfortable for them?”
Tribble added that if a company doesn’t pursue this, a competitor will, leading to a loss of market share.
For Rebekah Ratliff, mediator, arbitrator, neutral evaluator and conciliation master, JAMS, there’s an extra step in the DEI equation.
“The associated part of DEI is inviting people to bring their gifts and talents, understanding that will make the experience richer for everyone,” Ratliff said. “Research shows that having diverse thinkers, participants, people from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences is an important enterprise.”
Continuing the point, Ratliff said, “It’s about examining, assessing and innovating cultures to use people in the right spaces, people from underutilized communities. It’s not just about the faces but putting people in the right positions.”
The panelists agreed that this process must come from the highest levels of the company. Mandates and incentives, they said, are a necessary part of this.
The question, Kyung asked, is how the insurance industry is doing with DEI compared to other industries, and where further progress can be made.
“The corporate culture needs to be examined,” Ratliff said. “We need to be honest about the shortcomings and barriers to entry. 400,000 jobs will be created. Companies are spending millions of dollars to replace technology, but they are not willing to spend money on the biggest risk: people. People are our biggest asset and our biggest risk .”
“Our work is incomplete,” Mosley said. “I say that because, with 30 years of experience, the industry looks very different, but sometimes progress has been slow and difficult.”
“We are feeling better but we are not there,” Adedeji said. “The fact that we’re in this room and having this conversation is progress. It’s important to bring in diverse talent, but if the leadership doesn’t lead to mentorship, sponsorship and dissemination up to senior levels of the organization, then we’re disingenuous. “
Tribble concluded, “Many of us are not comfortable being uncomfortable.”