Empathy, employee support key D&I strategies amid uncertainty

October 14, 2020

Insurance leaders around the globe are continuing to find creative ways to prioritize diversity and inclusion initiatives despite the collective social distancing brought about by the pandemic.

Speakers at the Business Insurance Diversity & Inclusion Institute’s 2020 virtual conference from NFP Corp., Zurich North America and Crawford & Co. shared the challenges they’ve faced in continuing to make D&I a priority during a global pandemic and how their workforces have come together to learn and share their feelings about the civil unrest in the country.

When news of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the resulting protests spread across the country, leaders at NFP and the insurer’s D&I board collaborated to develop ways to communicate with employees about the events, including retaining a therapist who has experience with trauma, was a person of color, and could “relate in a more direct way to the team,” said Ginnette Quesada-Kunkel, New York-based executive vice president and chief human resources officer at NFP.

“We reiterated again our core values, and also dedicated resources on matching contributions to organizations that are involved in social justice,” Ms. Quesada-Kunkel said. “It’s something that’s extremely important to all of us.”

Lauren Young, Chicago-based head of diversity and inclusion at Zurich North America, said she thought her strategy at the beginning of the year was complete, but after the pandemic hit and Mr. Floyd’s death, she changed course to include “more conversation, more empathy and more compassion for each other.”

Diversity in the workplace: Protests and pandemic exposed racial disconnect

September 1, 2020

Black Lives Matter protests and the spread of COVID-19 have kept the national discourse on racial inequality and social injustice going. The results from this year’s diversity survey illuminate the disconnect between racial groups, with higher than usual participation compared with prior years.

Black/African-American respondents (85.7%) are almost three times more likely to say there is systemic racism in the insurance industry than white/Caucasian respondents (31.2%). Meanwhile, whites (52.9%) are more likely to say they are optimistic that real changes will follow in the wake of the protests than nonwhites (43.2%), with Blacks being the least optimistic (34.2%).

In light of the events preceding the 2020 Business Insurance diversity survey, there was a greater urgency to take the temperature of insurance professionals on issues that will certainly affect their workplace. We commissioned Signet Research Inc. to conduct this year’s survey between July 9 and Aug. 3, with a special set of questions at the beginning of the survey to address the current situation.

This year, with additional outreach, we received 2,200 responses, compared with 897 last year, from U.S.-based professionals who indicated they work or worked for a company that sells or distributes insurance, or who is or was involved as a buyer of insurance for their organization. The base used is the total answering each question.

The larger number of responses this year enabled us to compare some individual minority groups’ responses, especially from Black, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander respondents, rather than a combined nonwhite minority group, adding an additional depth of insight.