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Diversity in hiring: tips to think differently

February 17, 2022

As reported in Nationwide’s 2021 Agency Forward Survey, customers have indicated that they highly value diversity in an agency when looking for an agent. Recruiting diverse candidates is imperative to the continued success of your agency, currently only 12% of the independent insurance agency workforce is Hispanic, Black, or Asian American.1

A commitment to fostering diversity within your agency begins with the hiring of diverse talent. It is important to consider that diversity not only includes gender identity, but also race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and ability as well. When pursuing diverse talent, it is likely that taking new approaches to the recruiting process will help you be successful in finding candidates in places that you haven’t considered before. Investing in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and fully committing to doing something different will allow you to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Leaning into a new way of thinking can have an extremely positive impact on your agency.

Nationwide heard from experts on this topic, Rochelle Rosatto, Senior Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion for Marsh, Lisette Perez, Agency Owner and President of Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies and Margaret Redd, Executive Director of National African American Insurance Association, Here are three tips to help you think differently when recruiting diverse talent:

1. Recruit from different places

Nationwide hosted a webinar on this topic, emphasizing the value in going outside of your usual recruitment channels to find new, diverse talent. While you may be comfortable in your current routine of fishing in the same ponds, finding unique diverse talent may require you to think outside of the box. There are a variety of places you can recruit from that you may have never used, such as local colleges or regional groups. Newly graduated college students can offer a unique perspective and bring a fresh energy to your agency. Local chapters of organizations that are fostering diversity in the insurance industry such as the National African American Insurance Association (NAAIA) and the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies (LAAIA) are fantastic resources to consult when recruiting, and are open to everyone! Building relationships within your community by hosting events and volunteering are also great ways to grow your network and begin recruiting outside of your typical channels.

2. Interview with a diverse group of current employees

When interviewing candidates, Rochelle Rosatto, Senior Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion for Marsh suggests being intentional with which current employees are present on interview panels. Plan to include employees from different backgrounds throughout the hiring and interview process to evaluate candidates. At Intel, the diversity of hires increased from 31% to 45% of hires being women or people of color after the company required interview panels to include at least two women and/or employees from underrepresented groups.1

“People are more inclined to want to work for a company where they feel they will be accepted and encouraged to show up to work as their authentic self, and an interview is a first impression that goes both ways.”

While you are considering if a candidate will be a good fit for your agency, the candidate is also considering if your agency is a place where they will be supported to thrive.

3. Work to acknowledge biases

We all carry implicit biases whether we realize it or not, and acknowledging that these biases exist is the first step to overcoming them to authentically foster a diverse work environment. You may unintentionally be looking for a candidate who has the same qualities, whether professionally or personally, as the person who previously had a role you are backfilling, but someone else with completely different qualities can have the potential to be a highly effective employee as well. Working to disrupt your usual way of thinking allows for space for diverse talent to shine.

Technology tools are available to remove unintended biases starting at the application process. Using these tools will conceal the demographics of the candidates, only that their skills and experience fit the open role.2

Implicit biases can also hold back diverse employees from reaching their full potential after they are hired—for example, having difficulties obtaining leadership positions. Lisette Perez, Agency Owner and President of LAAIA says that providing diverse talent with the tools to be successful– i.e. coaching, education, training and an evolving learning strategy can help both attract and just as importantly, retain diverse talent.

Keep in mind, the commitment to diversity isn’t just a check box for the hiring process. Take time to revisit how you’re prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion. This includes practices like establishing a talent pipeline and offering coaching and learning opportunities. Evaluate these practices as you would with other policies and strategies and with the same level of accountability. As Margaret Redd, Executive Director of NAAIA shared, “it’s not just an activity, but a long-term strategy.”