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Authenticity can help hire and retain diverse talent

March 18, 2024

Across industries, hiring and retaining diverse talent is an important part of connecting with new customers and studies reinforce benefits, including innovation and target market growth.1

  • Fostering innovation: Lack of diversity has been shown to limit organizational innovation. Diversity of thought can help businesses innovate and find solutions to challenges they may have otherwise missed out on. In a highly competitive marketplace, the insurance industry cannot afford to slow innovation efforts.1,2
  • Growing markets: A team that has a variety of worldview perspectives can educate employees and clients, and reach untapped customer demographics. This opens the conversation to new, unexplored, and different ideas.3

Additional benefits of diversity in insurance workforce

  • High performance: Research shows ethnically diverse and gender-diverse companies are 36 percent and 25 percent more likely to outperform less diverse organizations.4 With diversity of ideas and opinions, diverse teams solve challenging problems better and, equally importantly, they are more open to continuous improvement rather than assuming that the first solution is the best one.5
  • Acquiring talent: A younger workforce is a multicultural workforce, as the newest generation is the most diverse generation in history. To serve a more diverse customer base and boost market share, the insurance industry itself needs to become more diverse. When you consider the next generation of insurance agents, it ideally would reflect the next generation of consumers. Seeking diverse candidates and nurturing the talent pipeline with knowledge and internships will allow you to connect with your community while providing new opportunities for those who are eager to learn and contribute.1,2

Best practices for hiring and retaining diverse talent

So how can leaders build and retain a diverse workforce? Leaders must remain authentic and own goals with a sense of humility. Consider the best practices listed below, from a panel of experts.

Share goals around diverse talent and culture

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) must be a full long-term strategy with commitment. It’s important to share goals with employees. Focus areas may include culture changes and development opportunities.

DEI goal examples

  • Create structured mentorship and sponsorship programs
  • Grow training and development opportunities, including continuous learning opportunities and rotational assignments
  • Ensure there is a diverse set of candidates presented for key positions
  • Innovate and expand on traditional recruitment programs to provide opportunities outside of the insurance industry, including working with local universities

Be transparent on the progress being made

As you would with any business goals, provide updates and share how goals and strategies may shift. Even if your numbers aren’t something to celebrate right away, it’s important to share with employees. These updates can help keep DEI efforts top of mind and the data can empower leaders and employees to think about how their daily actions may contribute to the goals. Rochelle Rosatto, Senior Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion for Marsh encouraged owning the goals with humility, sharing “maybe we don’t necessarily look the way we’re aspiring to be in terms of diversity but here’s what we’re doing about it and this is what we’re committed to.”

Ask questions, create an open dialogue with employees

Consider using surveys to help assess employee perspectives of the DEI efforts. Find time to meet one-on-one or in small groups and make it clear that you’re available to hear feedback outside of these regular check-ins. As Lissette Perez, President of the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies (LAAIA) shared, “once you’ve committed, you have to engage.” She suggested joining organizations like LAAIA and the National African American Insurance Association (NAAIA) to help amplify the work they’re doing in the industry.

Evaluate policies and strategies, including advancement opportunities

As you measure goals and receive employee feedback, take time to revisit how you’re prioritizing DEI. Do you have a talent pipeline established? Are you using inclusive language in job postings? Are you offering coaching and a learning strategy? Evaluate 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.”

Aim to update diversity data quarterly and in annual reports, including hiring, promotion, and retention numbers. Qualitative data around efforts like mentorships and employee resource groups can help provide a full picture of how the business is progressing.

Accelerating change for diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry

Through a survey conducted by Marsh Mclennan6, respondents were asked if they could identify key changes that insurance and risk organizations can make to more fully achieve and prioritize DEI. There were a wide range of answers, from enhancing recruitment efforts to more frequent mentorship and sponsorship opportunities.

At Nationwide, DEI remains at the heart of our culture. We’re committed to creating a workplace where all voices are respected and celebrated. Here are a few of the examples of how we leverage a variety of programs to help retain and strengthen talent and provide professional development to all employees at all levels, including:

  • Employee resource groups offer focused programming, events, support and sponsorship for employees, including women, cultural heritage, diverse abilities and more.
  • MENTORwide is a program for employees looking for an opportunity to be a mentor, mentee or both. This program allows employees at all levels to make connections across the company, spark growth and take their career to the next level.
  • INSIGHT leadership journeys give participants access to internal and external tools and resources to support their development and growth. The program includes access to an executive coach, exposure to the executive leadership team and opportunities to create deeper connections with peers from across the company.
  • Internships are offered throughout the year, welcoming college students from across the country. During their time, students have the opportunity to learn new things, make meaningful connections and experience Nationwide’s caring and inclusive culture. Designed to help students build strong foundations for their careers, many interns go on to accept full-time positions where they can continue to grow at Nationwide.

The impact of diversity in insurance over the years

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has collected a wide variety of statistics about the labor market and found approximately 2.8 million people were employed in the insurance industry in 2021. The racial and ethnic groups as well as by gender breakdown is as follows and represented in the graph below for the insurance industry: 58.9% women, 77.9% White, 13.2% Black or African America, 6.4% Asian, and 11.8% Hispanic or Latino.7

Graph on the diversity within the insurance industry in 2021.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,

While improvements have been made, these stats show there is a significant amount of work that needs to be done to provide more diverse representation to the industry to achieve the benefits listed above, including innovation and improved client relationships. It takes accountability, resources, and time from leadership to succeed with a long-term DEI strategy. Putting these best practices of goal-setting, measurement, transparent communication and continuous improvement in place can help your business prepare for the future, especially during this time of workforce evolution.

Read Nationwide’s diversity, equity and inclusion philosophy.