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Authenticity can help hire and retain diverse talent

February 17, 2022

When looking for an agent, diversity within the agency is increasingly important to consumers, 67% reported so according to Nationwide’s 2021 Agency Forward Survey. Hiring and retaining diverse talent is an important part of connecting with new customers and studies1 reinforce compelling business reasons to build diversity including innovation and target market growth. Insights from Marsh’s research on Hispanics and African Americans1,2 in the insurance industry found that benefits for the organization and industry include:

  • 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 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

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, development opportunities and hiring . Having that leadership commitment will resonate through an organization.

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 universities1,2

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 diversity, equity and inclusion efforts top of mind. The data can empower leaders and employees to think about how their daily actions may contribute to the goals. To demonstrate accountability, share DEI progress in annual reports. 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. If you’ve reached a diverse hiring goal, but the culture isn’t supporting new hires these efforts can help identify changes you can make to retain talent. 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 diversity, equity and inclusion. 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, 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.

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. Employees are evaluating their work and if it provides fulfillment not only for their career goals, but beyond a paycheck. Diverse talent expects an organization’s commitment to diversity.1