In a January article by Amy O’Connor, Insurance Journal highlighted vital issues within insurance: The “diversity gap” and allyship within the industry. O’Connor points out the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor resulted in many “Individuals and businesses responded by vowing to better support communities of color”, yet “[e]xperts on the topic of diversity in the insurance industry say there hasn’t been enough done to attract or retain talent from the Black community”.
However, many feel that now is the “tipping point” that will lead the insurance industry to step up to “[bring] in more people of color” and “[elevate] those already in its ranks”. Contributor Nina Boone—North American leader for Diversity & Inclusion at Korn Ferry and the former U.S. Chair of Aon’s Diversity & Inclusion Board—shared that “Yes, it is uncomfortable…[but] we have to just get started somewhere and have those difficult conversations, allow ourselves to be inconvenienced but include those of us who have experienced it every day. If you are truly serious about change, then I think it’s necessary that we do it now rather than later”.
Mernice Oliver of Mernice Oliver International and founder of the National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance (NAAWI) explained that “Change can only happen when industry leaders begin the dialogue, Oliver said, gain foundational knowledge of systems of oppression, and acknowledge the inequalities inside of our organizational structures”.
The good news, however, is that “many appear to be committed to doing the hard work”.
Indeed, Dr. Jamie Parson—Faculty Coordinator for Diversity and Inclusion efforts at the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center—sees recruiting for students from diverse backgrounds to be stronger than ever. “Numerous organizations are realizing how successful they can be when they utilize and amplify voices from underrepresented backgrounds” said Parson.
To encourage students from diverse identities to explore the industry and lower the barriers to entry that often exist for these students, the Brantley Center is launching its second Building Insurance Talent (BIT) cohort in February 2021. The 8-week long program will introduce students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to program various parts of the insurance industry and expose them to the numerous opportunities that it provides. The program also supports students in their professional development including a post-program mentorship opportunity and culminating with a networking trip to NYC once travel is once again allowed. Interested students can complete an interest form here.
The Center has also made diversity and inclusion education a mandatory portion of its student Summit Certification to ensure that allyship of diverse students remains a strong part of its programming and community.