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Insurance sector rates success of diversity efforts

Insurance sector rates success of diversity efforts

While 60.6% of insurance professionals surveyed on diversity in the workplace think their company’s diversity programs are effective in achieving the desired outcomes, minority groups are less enthusiastic than their white male counterparts.

Signet Research Inc. on behalf of Business Insurance surveyed 823 U.S.based insurance and risk professionals in June and July to gain insights on industry practices in recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce as part of an annual effort to draw attention to concerns of minorities working as insurers, agents and brokers, risk managers/corporate insurance buyers/users, third-party administrators, health and benefits consultants, or insurance services/legal/consultants.

Through members of the Business Insurance Diversity and Inclusion Institute, in partnership with associations such as the National African American Insurance Association and the Gamma Iota Sigma collegiate risk management and insurance fraternity, 296 of those returns were received through email and social media.

With this additional outreach effort, this year’s survey collected more responses from minority groups, especially among AfricanAmericans — 19.5% of participants compared with 66.4% of white participants. Hispanics made up the next-largest group of minority respondents at 4.4%.

Due in part to the assistance of the Women’s Insurance Networking Group, women participants in the research effort also surpassed that of men for the first time. A small group of respondents identified as transgender or did not want to disclose their gender.

The average age of respondents in this year’s survey is 49.5 years old, and they have worked in the industry for an average of 20.1 years. Baby boomers made up 40% of respondents, with Generation X coming second at 35.6%. Millennials or Generation Y made up 22.5% of participants.

Of respondents’ job classifications, about 60% were either insurers or agents/brokers. Risk managers and corporate insurance buyers made up about one quarter of the respondents. The remaining respondents were from service providers, such as consultants, lawyers, third-party administrators and health and benefits consultants.

In terms of the level of job responsibilities, the respondents were roughly split between middle managers/senior managers and lower managers/nonmanagerial staff. Staff from large companies made up the largest proportion of respondents.

When it comes to recruiting diverse candidates, companies appeared to use traditional recruiting methods. Few respondents said their companies used recruitment aids specifically targeting diverse candidates.

Less than 10% of respondents said that minorities held C-suite positions at their organizations, with nearly 30% saying senior team leaders were the highest ranking minorities.

African-Americans made up the highest percentage of minorities in management positions. More than 15% of the most senior minorities were LGBT.

The top challenges to diversity included the lack of diverse job candidates, lack of consistent leadership on the issue and lack of understanding of what diversity can do for the industry. Over half said that CEOs should be accountable for the success of diversity programs.

Just over one-fourth — 28.7% — of respondents said branch/ division managers helped employees recognize biases that foster workplace discrimination or exclusion; 26.8% of those in agreement were female, while 24.5% were African-American.

Different groups tend to “hide” certain things more than others. For example, females are more likely to hide their political affiliation and age compared with their male counterparts. Likewise, minorities tend to hide their political affiliation compared with their white colleagues, and whites are more likely to hide their religion compared with minority groups. Not surprisingly, baby boomers are more likely to hide their age than Gen Xers and millennials.

Over 60% of the total respondents think their companies’ diversity programs are either very or somewhat effective in achieving the desired outcomes.

However, male respondents — 65.0% — are more likely to think that their company’s diversity programs are effective compared with their female colleagues at 57.5%. Likewise, white respondents, at 62.4%, are more likely than their black/African-Americans counterparts, at 58.1%, to think that the programs are effective. Female and black/African-American respondents are less likely to rate positively on company’s diversity and inclusion efforts compared with the overall group. Specifically, less than half of the respondents rate their company’s effort in accommodating religion, at 40.5%, and disability, at 45.0%, as “very good” or “good.”

While a sizable majority of respondents feel that their organization considers diversity and/or inclusion as business priorities, respondents from the largest companies with 10,000 or more full-time employees are more likely to agree.

Despite the recognition by companies that diversity should be a business priority, only about a third of respondents feel that there is sufficient diversity in the insurance/risk management/health and benefits workforce.

Female respondents are significantly more likely than male respondents to feel that there is insufficient diversity.

Likewise, black/African-American respondents, at 77.7%, are more likely than their white/Caucasian co-workers, at 46.2%, to feel there is insufficient diversity in the insurance workforce.

When asked about what the top three priorities for diversity/ inclusion efforts in the industry should be, respondents named fairness in performance and compensation decisions, retention and development of diverse talents, and ensuring diversity at all levels of management among the top priorities.


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