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Employees at Gehring Group Inc. were shaken when they learned about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.
“The nation was alarmed and shocked at the gravity and inhumanity. We all saw it and felt the same thing,” said Rodney Louis, senior risk management consultant at the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based unit of Risk Strategies Co.
Kate Grangard, managing director, national public entities practice, wanted to provide an opportunity for employees to get together as an organization and not ignore what had happened.
They held a town hall in early 2021, “where many people spoke and were extremely moved,” Mr. Louis said.
“A lot of us were sharing experiences with regards to discrimination or lack of inclusivity.”
At the end of the town hall, the decision was made to form a committee to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion.
“More than 60 people out of 94 employees volunteered to join, to be a part of ‘Culture of Inclusion,’ which is what we called it,” Mr. Louis said.
The decision was made on what they should concentrate on, and they broke into three groups, focusing on education, awareness training and communication.
The education group decided “to give an unbiased history lesson about legislation and court doctrines from 1865 until today,” Mr. Louis said. “They focused on the legislation that created where we are today.”
They then worked with a production company to make a film. “We used footage and video, and had it narrated,” he said. “It ended up being 40 minutes of U.S. history that you never learned in school.”
These employees also participated in a privilege walk. “Everyone lines up and several questions are asked about advantages,” Ms. Grangard explained.
Questions were asked such as “Did you have more than 20 books in your home?” and “Is English the first language spoken in your home?”
“If you had a positive situation you took a step forward. If not, you took a step back,” Mr. Louis said.
“Most participants kept their eyes down, and when they looked up and saw where their coworkers were, they were surprised,” Mr. Louis said. “Some broke down in tears.”
Looking forward, the goal is for people to understand that “just because we’re from a different place, or have an accent, doesn’t make us separate from one another. We want to honor and celebrate those differences,” he said.
• Alliant Insurance Services Inc. — The brokerage launched the Alliant Insurance Foundation to promote diversity and broaden access to the insurance industry to underrepresented people.
• CNA Financial Corp. — The insurer implemented its Company of Allies program to advance a culture of inclusion through training and education programs.
• Falvey Insurance Group — The agency introduced Women at the Helm, the company’s first-ever speaker series, which spotlighted challenges facing women.
• Guidewire Software Inc. — The software company implemented a companywide diversity and inclusion strategy that seeks to embed inclusiveness throughout the organization.
The 2022 Business Insurance U.S. Insurance Awards celebrate teams working across the insurance and risk management sector that are providing solutions to problems faced by commercial insurance buyers and supporting the industry.