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Editorial: Diversity hiring key to growing industry

Posted On: Nov. 2, 2022 12:00 AM CST

Gavin Souter

Attracting people to work in insurance remains a challenge for many organizations, but it appears to be one that more and more companies are rising to.

Programs directed at pulling a wider variety of people into the sector — whether in terms of education level or race and ethnicity — are making progress. 

At the Business Insurance Diversity & Inclusion Institute’s recent conference, several companies shared the success of their alternative recruitment initiatives. By discarding the notion, for example, that all jobs previously set aside for college graduates really need someone who has a four-year degree, companies are able to access people that they had not previously considered. Such apprenticeship programs need a commitment from the companies involved, because they require additional training resources, but they turn out committed and engaged employees.

Internship programs are also being adapted to accelerate the process of attracting interested workers to the industry. While many insurers and brokers have longstanding programs for college students and graduates, some are extending these programs to high school students with positive results. In addition to bringing future workers into the sector, the programs have the added benefit of getting the word out early that insurance can be a varied, interesting and lucrative career.

Companies sponsoring these programs also report that they are excellent avenues to connect the industry with a more diverse pool of candidates — which is another area that the industry has struggled with.

BI’s research, though, shows that there are signs of improvement with diversity, too. According to respondents to our 2022 survey on diversity in the insurance workplace, 64.3% say their organization recognizes diversity as a priority, compared with 59.7% last year, and 64.3% say their company has made an effort to improve diversity practices, compared with 51.3% in 2021.

And people are hopeful that more change is coming. While only a narrow majority of all people working in the industry are optimistic about the prospect of diversity-related change, 61% of millennials have a positive outlook on the issue.

At the conference, it was clear that many people are working hard to attract more people in general to the industry and to target more diverse candidates, and that they are sharing best practices on how to improve the diversity of the sector.

Dropping the “b” word to help dispel the myth that the insurance sector is made up of nothing but boring jobs is a good place to start, but there are many smart and layered strategies being employed.

Encouraging more diverse people to enter the insurance sector is not only the right thing to do, but also a practical necessity as other sectors battle the industry for talent. There’s still a long way to go, but many in the industry clearly have the drive and the ideas in place to make a meaningful difference.