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Recognizing bias, changing recruitment key to D&I

Posted On: Apr. 26, 2021 5:35 PM CST

RIMS diversity

Changing recruiting behaviors and recognizing bias are crucial for making strides toward creating a diverse and inclusive insurance industry, said experts at a Wednesday session at the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.’s 2021 conference, which was held virtually.

“Diversity comes in many forms,” said Lauren Young, Chicago-based, Zurich North America’s head of diversity and inclusion. “You need to be building relationships with a variety of groups to bring that best talent into your organization.”

In the session, moderated by Elanee Gashaw, New York-based diversity partnerships and sourcing leader, Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., industry experts discussed strategies for recruiting diverse talent and overcoming biases when hiring.

“If you don’t think outside the box, you’re just recycling the same individuals over and over again,” said Frank Acosta, Miami-based president and CEO of The Risk Management Group Inc. “The fact is, our industry needs new blood in it. Either attract them via social media or attract them at local schools or networking associations.”

But employers need to go beyond simply recruiting and ensure they’re taking steps to remove biases that may exist in interview panels or in the processes for selecting resumes, said Roianne Nedd, South Croydon, England-based global head of diversity and inclusion at Oliver Wyman, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Cos.

For example, employers should assemble a diverse panel of hiring managers and teach them “to take really good notes to show evidence of how they’re assessing” applicants so they can hold each other accountable and their biases will “likely balance each other out,” she said.

Employers should also hold themselves accountable by releasing their own demographic information on their diversity progress,” Ms. Nedd said.

“Diversity is one of the only areas where people push against numerical (key performance indicators),” she said. “I’m a fan of measuring. … You cannot just have one diverse candidate and expect that to create change.”

“If you can’t lead with some level of transparency and honesty, it’s going to be so difficult to create that level of trust and accountability that is needed for the work ahead,” Ms. Young said. “The more companies willing to be honest about where they stand today … the better off we’re going to be.”