Insurers promote the advantages of getting completely different workforces – business insurance

The surplus and surplus insurance market offers an opportunity to add diversity to the industry, executives said during a panel discussion Thursday in the San Diego Wholesale Specialty Insurance Association's annual marketplace.

The industry needs to be conscientious and understand that a diverse workforce will lead to more diversity of thought, said Carlton Maner, CEO and Global Property Practice Leader, U.S. Division, at Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. in Atlanta.

Diversity and inclusion efforts increase productivity, and "The profits in companies with different backgrounds and diverse employees are much better than in companies that lack diversity," he said.

Mr. Maner is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the WSIA Diversity Foundation. WSIA established the foundation in 2020 to promote and attract diversity related to race, gender, sexual orientation and disability, and to influence progress in the diversity of the wholesale, specialty and surplus insurance industries.

Working in a diverse environment is both challenging and rewarding, said Cristi Carrington, Seattle principal and director of underwriting at Brown & Riding Insurance Services Inc.

"It's a challenge because when you work on a problem or create a think tank, not everyone works like you," said Carrington.

Everyone has their own prejudice about how to approach a problem, she said. "But sitting there and listening and having empathy for someone else, their background, their life, or their approach is rewarding," she said.

To promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in organizations, leaders need to slow down, said Erin Dolan, senior vice president, Analytics and Communications, at RSUI Group Inc. in Atlanta.

"We're talking about the unintended bias that goes with all of the decisions we make, and I think that will be most widespread if we move quickly," said Ms. Dolan.

"You were hired to be quick, make quick decisions, so it's important to slow down and be very conscious," she said. Reaching out to people you normally wouldn't reach for recruiting or ideas on a topic is also crucial, she said.

There is an opportunity to educate yourself and others in understanding the benefits of having a diverse workforce, said Bryan Clark, president of Gorst & Compass Insurance, based in Los Angeles.

“We don't change, we evolve as a society and we have to look at the world differently. … A lot of people still don't get it, and we are here as leaders to show them that there is a big world full of incredibly talented people, "said Clark.

The increasing diversity in the industry will bring more talent into the industry, he said.

There is an internal pool of talent that needs to be tapped to increase diversity within insurance companies, Mr. Maner said.

“When we started our apprenticeship program at Axis years ago, I said a third of our trainees (should) be from college, a third were people with more experience but not in the insurance industry, and a third were from within promotions. That was good for us, ”he says.

The WSIA Diversity Foundation has established a speaker office with the goal of 18 campus visits to historically black colleges and universities during this academic year, where WSIA members will speak about their careers in the industry.

It will also focus on non-HBCUs with different student populations to increase the talent pipeline.

“We want to raise awareness among schools for our industry,” said Maner.

The panel was moderated by Adam Care, Austin-based business unit director and vice president of CAD IoT, at Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co.

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