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Captive industry must prioritize diversity: Experts


ORLANDO, Florida – The captives sector must continue to embrace diversity and to build an inclusive culture in the workplace to attract and retain talent, experts say.

They were speaking Thursday at the World Captive Forum in Orlando, sponsored by Business Insurance.

Diversity in the workplace has to be an ongoing conversation, said Melissa Hollingsworth, Atlanta-based enterprise risk manager, Atlanta Housing.

“It can’t be a check the box and then we move on down the road. We have to keep talking about it. And we have to keep making it a priority,” said Ms. Hollingsworth, who is a 2023 Business Insurance Women To Watch honoree.

Anne Marie Towle, Indianapolis-based CEO global risk management & captive solutions at Hylant Group Inc., said that the captive industry must share its passion for insurance to attract the next generation of leaders.

“The captive industry is sometimes a little-known niche industry that people don’t know and understand, so first and foremost, it’s creating excitement about what we do and that crosses race, ethnicity, religious practice – whatever it might be,” she said.

Creating a culture and environment where people want to work together is critical, said Ms. Towle, who was among the 2019 Business Insurance Women to Watch.

It’s important to think about hiring differently, she said. “Historically, for instance, in the captive management industry, we are looking for accountants and finance degrees. How about we start looking at different areas and experiences?” she said.

Amy O’Brien, Rolling Meadows, Illinois-based vice president – carrier practice sales, Gallagher Bassett Services Inc., a subsidiary of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., said that as part of a larger organization with 50,000 employees in worldwide locations, “it’s important that our employee base really reflect a global economy, not just that city or state that we might live in.”

Gallagher Bassett does a lot of hiring through internships and mentorship programs, Ms. O’Brien said. “It’s very important that we see a diverse pool of applicants,” she said.

Captives have organizations where there are thousands of employees, and “organizations like my own where there’s only approximately 100,” said Rae Brown, Phoenix-based assistant vice president, captive insurance solutions at GPW and Associates Inc.

The concept of diversity might look different in various organizations, but “it still needs to be the same message,” Ms. Brown said.

Diversity is alert behavior to some people but a natural behavior to others, she said.

“When I do my hiring and my hiring practices, I tend to be blind. And my blindness is on purpose. I’m looking at a piece of paper that says, ‘Does this person have qualities?’ and I don’t even want to know technically what your gender is, because it’s not important to me. Are you going to meet the qualities on your resume? And are you going fit culturally within the organization that I work with,” she said.