Category Archives: Careers and Employment

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A with Mary Jo Hudson, Squire Patton Boggs

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in the insurance industry and to spread awareness on the career opportunities within the industry.

This month Kris Maccini, director, social media, Triple-I, interviewed Mary Jo Hudson, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs who provided insights about her career trajectory, LGBTQ+ support in the workplace, and implications for LGBTQ+ professionals following the recent Supreme Court ruling that the Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender Americans from workplace discrimination.

Name: Mary Jo Hudson

Current Role: Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

Years at Firm: 3 years

Tell me about your current role and work at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs

I’ve been at Squire just over three years, and I lead the U.S. Regulatory practice as part of our Global Financial Services Practice Group. Our group includes several former senior insurance regulators [including myself] and several former insurance company general counsel and experienced litigators. We represent insurance companies in transactional market product issues, provide strategic advice on regulatory matters, and work with trade associations and professional associations on top regulatory issues. I particularly enjoy our thought leadership efforts – writing content as litigation experts on insurance regulations.

Prior to your time at Squire Patton Boggs, you served at the Ohio Dept of Insurance. What was your role there and what attracted you to the regulatory side of the industry?

I did two ‘tours of duty’ at the Ohio Department of Insurance. During my first ‘tour of duty,’ I was a staff attorney and then a general counsel of the Ohio Liquidation Office. We had several liquidation estates, and I was the only attorney in that office. Eventually, I went back to private practice and got involved in local politics – returning for my second “tour” as the Director and a member of the Governor’s cabinet. I’ve been out of the Department of Insurance for about 10 years now.

When I was Insurance Director – it was just prior to the Affordable Care Act – my governor had all his administration’s health reform efforts based at the Insurance Department. I was an officer of the Insurance Compact all four years of my service, and I also worked actively on numerous National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) committees and task forces, including serving on the Executive Committee and EX-1.

It was a great learning experience. Insurance regulation brings together a mix of legal and public policy together with complex financial services issues. I find the multi-jurisdictional structure to be unique and fascinating.

We’re in a time where it’s still challenging for women to make ‘Partner’ at leading firms. What has led to your success and what advice can you give to other women looking to achieve similar goals?

I love what I do. I work with great clients and try to deliver the best services that I can. Law practice – especially at a larger firm – is always a challenge, and I try to learn and grow. When I talk to younger lawyers, I tell them that when doors seem to close there are a lot of windows that open. Don’t try to force things that aren’t meant for you – continue to work hard and watch for those opportunities to come as a result of that work.

It’s still a challenging profession and industry to be a woman – particularly the higher up that you go. I’ve been an open member of the LGBTQ+ community for 30 years.  I’ve found that it’s sometimes easier to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community than it is being a woman. The gender issues are somehow larger.

I remember as a young lawyer a partner once told me ‘Don’t go into regulatory work. That’s women’s work and it’s not valued.’ Regulatory is where I excel – but that work is not always valued – unless you remind colleagues about its foundational value with respect to transactions and litigation. You learn to pick your battles wisely and push where it’s needed.

Your firm has a commitment to diversity & inclusion – recognized in 2019 as one of the ‘Best law Firms for Women’ and in 2017 as a ‘Top Firm in Diversity’. Can you talk about some of the programs Squire Patton Boggs has in place to create opportunities and foster inclusion for LGBTQ+, women, and minorities?

There is a dedication at the top on diversity & inclusion, and it permeates throughout the office. The firm has worked hard to elevate women into leadership roles. Squire continues to do the work to be self-reflective and improve on our efforts.

Efforts are also focused on connections and relationships. These relationships generate business development. Our LGBTQ+ programs allow for connections with colleagues at other offices, which has led to new work for us all.

Squire has a 100% rating for the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. It’s important and a good leadership statement – involving employment policies, benefits, and a concerted effort on hiring a diverse mix of candidates. I’ve been involved in the hiring process to ensure that our next generation of lawyers is even more diverse.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, what challenges have you faced throughout your career?

I’ve always found that I had to work hard to get to advance, but I’ve always tried to be my authentic self. I was never good at being closeted. I’ve been out since the early 90s. I did find job mobility difficult, and it was tough to move from state to private practice. I had to be patient. I took a winding route professionally, instead of a direct route, combining public service, social justice service and private practice. During that time, I was very active nationally in the LGBTQ+ movement. I served on a several boards and in leadership for the Human Rights Campaign national board. This work helped me develop personally and professionally, including some great board experience.

In public service and local board service, I had a lot of what I called ‘Lady Godiva moments’ where I was often the only openly LGBTQ+ person in the room. I remember going to community events as an elected official and people [in the room] had never met anyone who was gay. I spent time listening and learning about what was going on in their neighborhoods and lives. I developed a reputation for being hard-working, and it was all about being a good public official and a good human being – less about sexual orientation.

Has recent support [for LGBTQ+] in the financial services, legal, and insurance industries eased any challenges for the community?

I do see a lot more support. Some businesses struggle with how to translate support that into the workplace. It’s an interesting perspective to work with different companies. Some do a good job at ‘getting’ diversity and inclusion. We’re still in a very conservative industry. Some companies don’t have any diversity at all. I see it growing, but there’s a gap between large companies and companies based in metropolitan areas and some companies that are smaller or mid-range. It may be a resource limitation or location. These companies need to make a concerted effort to build diversity.

The insurance industry needs to take the lead on making a multi-year commitment to getting diversity right, or they won’t be in touch with the next generation of customers.

What are your thoughts on the landmark Supreme Court decision protecting LGBTQ+ professionals from job discrimination? What do you think are the broader implications for this ruling and how it will impact the workplace?

I did not think I would see a ruling like Bostock in my lifetime. Over the years, I would read court decisions and employment discrimination cases on LGBTQ+ and the logic was so twisted against the plaintiffs. I didn’t know how we would get past that intolerance. The Bostock decision is a signal that the social justice and education work of the last 30+ years has made a difference – but we’re not done. It is a turning point to make changes for workplace and public policies on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It’s a groundbreaking decision around gender identity discrimination, which has not been discussed nearly as much as discrimination based on sexual orientation. The issues of the trans community [historically] have been treated separately. It took education and a couple of generations to help define and integrate the movements. I think it’s terrific that of the cases in Bostock, the claims of discrimination based on gender identity and the claims based on the sexual orientation discrimination were so both addressed rather than split.

Where we will still have challenges – the next generation is more gender fluid. The decision  breaks down some barriers, but now we’ll need to address those issues around gender fluidity as well. Ultimately, we’ll have to work on how the individuals of our next generation can be their best authentic selves to work and to the community.

Latest report shows surprising job gains for the insurance industry

By Dr. Steven Weisbart, Chief Economist, Insurance Information Institute

The employment report for May 2020, just released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, has some surprising numbers.­ I’m not referring to the national employment or unemployment numbers (although they are surprising) but to the employment numbers for April for the insurance industry.

In April, you might remember, the numbers for the national economy were dreadful. The unemployment percentage shot up to 14.7 percent, and the number of people unemployed spiked to 20.7 million. The comparable numbers for subsets like the property/casualty (P/C) insurance industry aren’t released until a month later, but they became available today.

In April, P/C insurance carriers gained 3,000 jobs and life/annuity carriers gained 5,600 jobs! In April, health (mainly medical expense) carriers lost 1,900 jobs, and insurance brokerage and agencies lost 15,200 jobs. I suspect that the agent/brokerage losses were at small businesses that, in May, will completely reverse these losses as a result of the Paycheck Protection Program.

It looks like the insurance industry is doing its part to keep the economy running.

CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: PROPERTY AND CASUALTY (4/15/2020)

Litigation
Legal Experts Prepare for Battles Over Business Interruption Cover
Travelers Sued Over Coronavirus Coverage
Meal Delivery Services Sued Over Restaurant Prices Amid Pandemic
Pandemic Relief
Swiss Re Donates CHF 5 Million to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts
Axis Capital, Swiss Re Pledge Donations to Pandemic Relief
Australia’s QBE to Raise $825 Million to Counter Coronavirus Crisis
CA Workers Comp Fund Creates Virus Relief Programs for Policyholders
Coronavirus Litigation Against Nursing Homes Takes Off in Tennessee
Regulation and Legislation
AL Regulator Eases Process for Auto Insurers to Reduce Policyholder Premiums
CA Insurers Ordered to Give Refunds
Politicians Push Insurers to Resolve Mounting Disputes Over COVID-19 Losses

Related:
Risk Manager is Suddenly a Hot Job
How Homeowners Insurance Claims Have Changed During the Pandemic

Resources for Conducting Successful Insurance Internship Programs During the COVID-19 Lockdown

By James Ballot, Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications, Triple-I

Gamma Iota Sigma Steps Up to Help Insurers and Students Stay Connected

In response to the Covid-19 crisis Gamma Iota Sigma (“GIS”), the insurance industry’s premier collegiate talent pipeline, will host a webinar, Delivering A Successful Virtual Internship Experience on Monday, April 6, 1:00pm-2:00pm (Eastern).

Through this interactive online session and its accompanying digital resources, GIS is stepping up in support of insurers’ efforts to conduct internships remotely at a time when physical workspaces are shuttered to facilitate social distancing.

The companion guidebook to this event, Virtual Internships A Guide for Employers, explains the tremendous value of remote internships and offers tactical guidance on how to rethink and rework internship programs to better suit today’s candidates for tomorrow’s workforce. The accompanying sample internship syllabus gives a practical framework for how to effectively and efficiently organize and administer remote internships.

GIS developed this campaign in response to disruption and dislocation created by the Covid-19 pandemic. By retaining and enhancing internship programs while college and corporate campuses are closed, organizations can get a head start in:

  • Entering an expanded talent pool that’s optimized to succeed
  • Finding candidates that can work independently, face a wide range of challenges and “think on their feet”
  • Building increased flexibility into existing programs to attract highly qualified candidates who otherwise would not be able to participate
  • Reducing costs associated with on-site internships
  • Positioning their brand and corporate values for future success in on-campus recruitment

But perhaps most the most important reason to do this: The 18-25 age cohort already learns, works, socializes and lives primarily online. Teens and young adults are a workforce prepared for the challenges of life during and after the COVID-19 crisis. Remote internships not only help students stay focused on their goals; they offer insurers an invaluable opportunity to adjust on the fly to the realities of our culture in the 2020s and beyond.

Today’s students are ready for this. Organizations like Gamma Iota Sigma are working to ensure that insurance businesses and our industry are ready for them.

Q&A with Emily Viner, Guardian Life Insurance

By Kris Maccini, Social Media Director, Triple-I

Triple-I has created an “Insurance Careers Corner” series to highlight trailblazers in insurance and to spread awareness of the career opportunities within the industry.

This month we interviewed Emily Viner at Guardian Life Insurance, who provided us with insights about her career trajectory, how she’s working to build a more inclusive workplace, and her advocacy work helping more women reach management roles at agencies.

Name: Emily Viner

Current Role: VP of Agency Growth & Development

Years at Guardian Life Insurance: 22


Tell us about your current role at Guardian Life. What does a typical day look like for you in this role?

As VP of Agency Growth & Development, I make sure that we hire enough of the right people to serve our communities and that our leadership bench is growing. We’re committed to growing future leaders from within the company.

In a typical day, I act as a bridge between what our field needs–our general agents who own and operate their businesses as partners of the Guardian networkand the home office. A typical day depends on what’s going on in the community. In the last three weeks that’s changed dramatically in what we need to provide to our partners.

As VP of Agency Growth & Development, what is top of mind for you?

Top of mind for me is making sure that we have the capacity to hire enough of the right people, and we’re equipped to hire people from diverse backgrounds–creating workplaces that are inclusive where people feel that they want to be part of that environment.

One of my colleagues years ago called it the greenhouse. Is the greenhouse set to make sure that someone can grow and thrive, and if not, then you’ve got to fix that first.

You began your career as a financial advisor before moving on to the corporate side of the business. What advice would you give to women looking to make a shift in their careers?

I remember that first year was so hard. As an advisor, I was in complete control and in a different environment I didn’t always have that. I would tell all women to say ‘yes’ when you don’t know how. That’s a scary thing, but once you do it, you realize ‘I made it and I’m fine.’

It’s also trusting that you’re competent and that you’ll figure it out.

I read an article years ago that stated women spend a lot of time being competent but not confident. That’s why saying yes when you don’t know how is so important. If you’re taking on a project where you only know 20%–if you fall, you’ll learn, and you’ll move on–that’s how you build confidence.

How did you get that confidence to follow through knowing that you had that skillset?

I spoke at an industry meeting years ago, and during that time, two companies had asked me to join them. At the time my children were young [three and four], and the companies weren’t being flexible. One of the companies offered the idea of me consulting three days a week to help with recruiting and building field leaders, so I just jumped in to do what was best for my family and my children.

I did that for two years before joining Guardian Life. In looking back–the two years I spent consulting–the knowledge that I gained helped me accelerate in the role once I arrived at Guardian. It’s having faith in your ability and what works for the current situation and what you’re looking to build. The perspective of having patience is important. It’s knowing that maybe this is the time that you need to learn something more or different for that next role.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, what are some ways that Guardian Life addresses topics such as equal pay, leadership opportunities, and inclusion efforts? 

We have an amazing executive leadership team that leads by example [CEO Deanna Mulligan and President, Andrew McMahon]. They live our values every day through their actions. We hold ourselves to very high standards, we seek to do the right thing and people count. That transcends to equal pay, equal opportunities, and all our inclusion efforts around hiring to ensure that there’s a diverse pool of candidates for open positions as well as opportunities for internal moves. I’ve seen inclusion programs really accelerate over the last ten years.

We’re living in an uncertain time. Your CEO Deanna Mulligan and President Andrew McMahon have made a public commitment to minimizing business interruptions during COVID-19 and maintain response during the crisis. How has this type of leadership impacted your role directly, and how is it impacting the company overall?

My team feels proud of the communication. There was a work-from-home strategy starting March 10th. The safety of our employees is a priority, as is client communication and services. We were built for this. We got through the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. We got through the great recession. We payed our obligations and still paid the dividends. We’re in the same position to be able to do that today–not just for our employees but for all our clients and consumers across the country.

Our clients are in good hands. We updated our website and communications to clients to let them know they can update their policies and get answers to questions through all our digital platforms. We’ve also provided our field partners with information they can share with their clients on market volatility and what they can do to help calm their fears. With the stock market volatility, the cash value in life insurance is not going to change, [it’s not subject to the same volatility] so there is also reassurance with those decisions.

What are your goals for the future in terms of where you want to take your career?

I’m thinking about how I’m positioning the firm for the future and building up our bench– ultimately grooming my successor. I’d also like to continue to help young women in male dominated industries. I’ve been working towards this for the past 30 years, but there is so much more to do whether it’s in my company or philanthropic/volunteer. It’s important to me to continue this work.

Linda Goldstein: Making A Difference to Help Policyholders

Loretta Worters, Triple-I’s Vice President of Media Relations, contributed this installment of our Women’s History Month series.

When Linda Goldstein joined CSAA Insurance Group in 2013, it was very different from the typical male-controlled companies. What drew her to the insurer was Paula Downey, the first female president and CEO in the organization’s then 100-year history. 

Goldstein, who is the executive vice president of customer experience and marketing for CSAA Insurance Group, noted that when she came on board she was impressed with the number of women in leadership positions.

Linda Goldstein

“It provided a slightly different perspective than a public company led by mostly men,” she said. 

Part of that different perspective was how women were compensated in the organization.  “I’m proud to say the gender pay gap is not an issue at our organization. I hope more companies do an extensive pay equity analysis, the same way we did here, so they can finally close the pay gap,” she said.

Progressive companies like CSAA Insurance Group engage in pay equity analysis to ensure equal pay between employees in similar roles. The objective is to determine that pay inequities are justified by compensable factors, like location and tenure, and not by unjustified factors, like gender or race and it has been a success at the firm.

Goldstein acknowledged that women have been underrepresented in certain areas of the insurance industry.  “There are different functions where you tend to see more men versus women, particularly in leadership roles,” she said, adding, “the insurance industry needs to do a better job of making sure woman are aware of the great opportunities across all of the functions. There is a plethora of jobs out there including innovation, actuary, underwriting, service, claims and marketing.  But the insurance industry needs to promote those opportunities and support women who seek them out,” she said.

As people retire, Goldstein hopes more women will be offered these roles. “Not just from a diversity perspective,” she said, “but from the ability to bring diversity of thought and focus to the business to drive profitable and sustainable growth.”

When asked what she liked best about the insurance industry, Goldstein smiled broadly, “It’s the fact that I know I’m doing something that helps people.  It helps them either be prepared and protect what’s most important to them or to be able to recover from a situation,” she said.  “Being in California and having seen the devastation of the wildfires over the past several years and understanding the stories of our policyholders who have lost everything,” she paused.  “It really does make a difference.”

Click here to read the other stories in our Women’s History Month series.

Barbara Bufkin, an Insurance Maverick

By Loretta L. Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Insurance Information Institute

When Barbara Bufkin started in the insurance industry nearly four decades ago, she didn’t think about women’s roles.  She started her career as a commercial underwriter, then a casualty facultative underwriter to a reinsurance intermediary.  In fact, in the first five years of her career she had four job changes – unheard of at that time. 

Today, many would say she has exceeded her goals.  She is Chair of the International Board of Governors of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), directly engaged in the global and national Women in Insurance Conference series, and President of the Association of Professional Insurance Women (APIW). Concurrently, she advocates for the value of the insurance industry as a career of choice in her role as Co-President and Board of Trustee of Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) and as a keynote speaker on The Power of Purpose in various insurance industry forums. In these initiatives, she has been driving the Big Tent of culture, inclusion, innovation, sponsorship, mentoring talent and the power of networks.

In addition to her Board responsibilities, Bufkin is on the advisory board of ODN, an early round InsurTech. She is Ambassador of The Insurance Supper Club, and member of the Dallas Host Committee for 2020 Women on Corporate Boards. In June 2019, she completed the EY Course: Board Readiness in a Transformative Age and has now taken on a new role as senior advisor to AmWINS Access.

But this success didn’t come easy. Bufkin recognized that there were corporate barriers which she had to learn to navigate.  But through that navigation she learned how to negotiate, a skill greatly needed in the business world.  She had the courage to build the career she envisioned for herself by seeking out mentors whom she trusted. 

Barbara Bufkin, senior advisor, AmWINS Access
chair, Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation

One area Bufkin could identify with was not only having a successful career but balancing that career with children as well as being a caregiver for aging parents; being responsible for a family.   “It was a very… productive time,” she grinned.

Bufkin said it was important now to help build up the industry during a time of rapid replacement of talent.  “For young woman who choose a career in insurance, it’s a great business to be in.  It’s much more secure during cyclical changes and economic downturns.”

Bufkin noted that there is a great need for women’s training. “We need to make sure that women’s voices when they are not in the room are being heard,” she said, adding that “we need to prepare women for executive roles.  Giving women strong coaching to be more conscious of their own capabilities and confidence, to overcome ‘imposter syndrome’ and consider themselves for a position when they may not have felt ready for it.” 

“When I transitioned over to the capital side of the business, I really didn’t know what a glass ceiling was.  When I confronted it, it had to be shattered; I didn’t think of it any other way.” 


Bufkin said that the statistics and studies that are being conducted now are creating a true awareness around the importance of gender equality and pay equality.  “There’s an intentional and committed focus around this,” she said.

“We as women need to be fearless; to accept the challenges and sometimes to understand defeat.  And by doing so, can we stand back up and do it better, bigger, greater and stronger.”

Women’s History Month: Honoring Women in the Insurance Industry

By Loretta L. Worters, Vice President – Media Relations, Insurance Information Institute

Women are advancing throughout the insurance industry. Hard work is one factor behind their success, but so are perseverance, supportive mentors, and willingness to take risks with their careers. 

Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the work that still needs to be done, but it’s also a time to celebrate the inroads that have been made. The Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), has created a series of interviews showcasing dynamic women leaders — trailblazers who have built successful careers in the industry. We’ll hear their stories, providing insight on how they made it to the C-suite and their advice to young women just entering insurance. 

Check back to see the interviews by clicking on this link: #womenshistorymonth

Challenges remain

Studies have found that greater gender diversity can help organizations be more innovativeand higher performing. Many female CEOs have led their companies’ stocks to outperform the index in terms of cumulative total returns during their tenures. Some have managed to produce triple- and even quadruple-digit percentage gains.

More specific to the insurance industry, a McKinsey report found that while women outnumber men at entry-level positions, their representation of the workforce is significantly smaller near the top of the organizational chart.

Women of color in insurance hold only 12 percent of entry-level roles and a mere 3 percent of direct-reporting roles to the CEO.  And black, Hispanic, and Asian women altogether make up only 3 percent of the insurance C-suite.

Growing Wages for Women Helped Narrow Gender Pay Gap, Though Women Still Lag Behind Men in Pay

According to PayScale.com women are often undervalued for the work they do, are more likely to hold lower-level, lower-paying jobs, and tend to stagnate in their careers, still making only $0.79 for every dollar made by men in 2019. Moreover, Hired.com’s  State of Wage Inequality in the Workplace found that companies pay women on average 4 percent to as much as 45 percent less than men in the same jobs — and these numbers haven’t changed since the company released its second annual 2017 report. In addition, 60 percent of the time men are offered higher salaries than a woman, for the same role at the same company.  The survey further reveals that of the 61 percent of women who discovered they were being paid less than men at the same role in their company, 16 percent found the difference was at least $20K.

Women’s experiences in the workforce also vary vastly by race.  PayScale.com noted that black and Hispanic women experience even wider pay gaps than white women, start their careers in lower-paying positions, and are less likely than white women to make it to the C-suite.

And disparity in earnings inevitably leads to a disparity in retirement savings, according to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, which has further implications for women, who generally have a longer life expectancy than their male counterparts.

Swiss Re Institute estimates that a 26 percent increase in global GDP in a scenario of labor market gender parity would yield an additional $2.1 trillion in global insurance premiums by 2029. 

How the Industry is Working to Make a Difference

“By focusing on solutions to achieve gender parity, insurers and reinsurers can address a key driver of the widening protection gaps facing individuals, families and societies.”

–Marianne Gilchrist, Head Global & South Asia, Hong Kong, Swiss Re

Insurers are making significant strides to improve gender diversity by creating sponsorship programs and addressing unconscious bias. There is, for example, the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index, which tracks the financial performance of public companies committed to supporting gender equality through policy development, representation, and transparency.The 2020 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index includes 325 companies across 50 industries, including insurance headquartered in 42 countries and regions.

Here are a few of the organizations that are making a tremendous difference:

  • Association of Professional Women is dedicated to encouraging women to embody the future of insurance through participation, progressive education, and engagement with forward thinking industry professionals. 
  • Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) and their Women in Insurance Conference Series, led by pioneer Elizabeth (Betsy) Myatt, vice president and chief program officer of IICF.
  • Women’s Insurance Networking Group (WING) which helps increase awareness through events and are a platform to share skills and knowledge.
  • Women in Insurance Initiative (WWII) is a consortium of organizations throughout the insurance industry, which is taking substantive and measurable action by recruiting, mentoring, and sponsoring women to drive equality in career advancement and leadership throughout the insurance industry.

Generational Differences in the Workplace: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Bottom Line

By Max Dorfman, Research Writer, Insurance Information Institute

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jennifer J. Deal, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), who helped provide insights into generational differences, leadership, and the insurance industry.

Deal will be speaking on many of these points at her upcoming talk at the WCRI’s 36 Annual Issues & Research Conference, March 5 and 6, 2020, in Boston, MA. She points to WCRI’s data-driven model as a mission she shares – and pushing for a greater understanding of the employees they both study. Deal also notes the importance of generating this data-driven understanding for the insurance business, which is tackling how to best engage and retain Millennial and Gen Z employees, groups that hold the future of the industry.

Why is studying Millennial engagement important?

Organizations want employees to be engaged and are deeply concerned that young people aren’t engaged at work. In general, when new cohorts come into an organization, it’s important to understand if anything is meaningfully different about them. If there is, then the organization can address it and hopefully continue to be effective as it integrates the new employees into the larger organization. 

How can a company use your insights to create a more cohesive, inclusive environment?

A company can use my work to help staff better understand the perspectives of the different generations.  Part of what my work does is provide data-based information about generations to clarify where there is a difference between stereotypes and reality.  This helps both leaders and people throughout organizations understand the perspectives of people from other generations who may or may not think like them.

How do generational differences affect the bottom line?

When people feel disengaged because they feel pushed aside or ignored simply because they’re from a particular generation, that’s a cost. When a company feels the need to implement very expensive training programs that aren’t necessarily going to improve how people work together because they don’t move the needle on the real issues, that’s a cost. When people leave because of unmet needs, that’s a cost. Unnecessary tension, conflict, and disengagement that arises because of generational stereotypes is a drag on the organization – and the bottom line.

Do you see all this affecting the insurance industry?

Definitely. I’ve had numerous conversations with leaders in the insurance industry about issues related to attraction and retention of the next generation of employees. One of the conversations we’ve had is about the desire of young people to have stability in their careers. Young people are much more interested in stability and long-term careers than people think they are. If that’s something the insurance industry can offer, it will likely be of great interest to young people.

SO, HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE FUTURE…? The Coming Golden Age of Insurance

By Sean M. Kevelighan, CEO, Insurance Information Institute

“What does the future of insurance look like?” It’s the question that’s launched a thousand publications and panel discussions. And it’s an essential one that covers a lot of ground. In my case, literally.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) partnered recently with InsureTech Connect (ITC) and Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) at the two organizations’ flagship events, InsureTech Connect 2019 in Las Vegas, and Gamma Iota Sigma’s 48th annual International Conference in Dallas. What we came away with from these back-to-back events were two distinct but nevertheless complimentary visions of how things are now and what’s to come.

Briefly put, the future of insurance will be largely to make good on past promises. And this is not because we’ve been remiss in our duties but because people now are able to build and implement the right tools for the job. Speaking before thousands of InsureTech Connect 2019 attendees, Glenn Shapiro, president of Allstate Personal Lines, was blunt.

He noted making policyholders wait several days for an auto repair estimate that takes only a few hours to complete is: “[N]ot a service experience that you would accept in any other part of your life!” Embracing Insurtech and the power of innovation enables insurers like Allstate to automate processes and replace outmoded legacy systems to make insurance a truly customer-driven business. Insurers are now able to provide security and empowerment to their customers.

Which brings us to … resilience.

Early in 2019, ITC selected the I.I.I. to co-host its Resiliency Innovation Challenge, a four-month-long competition for Insurtech start-ups whose businesses are focused on catastrophe resilience. Fast forward to the final day of InsureTech Connect 2019, and an impressive field of 22 Insurtechs was pared down to three outstanding finalists: WeatherCheckTrue Flood Risk and Cowbell Cyber, whose CEOs presented their products and businesses to a panel of experts. The group included Susan Holliday, senior adviser to the International Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C.; Arlene Kern, a strategic innovation scout at Munich Reinsurance Co.; Lee Ng, vice president, Innovation, at Travelers Cos. Inc.; and Kevin Pray, vice president, Innovation, at The Hanover Insurance Group.

The finalists come at the problem of catastrophe risk from markedly different angles—preparedness, risk assessment, and risk management, respectively. The beauty of this diversity of thought was that we had disparate applications of data coalescing around the power of resilience. Congratulations to Demetrius Gray, CEO of WeatherCheck, who walked away with the first-place trophy, as well as to all the competitors who made the inaugural Resiliency Innovation Challenge a huge success.

One of the key takeaways from the Challenge was how resilience is benefiting and inspiring people in ways other functions of our industry cannot. Innovation and, more important, awareness of new solutions to manage risk makes the goal of creating safer homes, businesses and communities an attainable one. Young men and women embrace this philosophy.

We saw this first-hand in students who’ve chosen to study risk management and insurance at the Gamma Iota Sigma International Conference in Dallas, TX. There, I was honored to moderate a panel discussion titled, “Plan. Respond. Recover: The Power of Resilience,” with Dr. Nidia Martinez, director of Climate Risk Analytics/Capital, Science & Policy Practice at Willis Towers Watson; Dr. Roger Grenier, senior vice president, Global Resilience, at Verisk’s AIR Worldwide, and Alessa Quane, executive vice president, Chief Risk Officer at AIG.

The panelists shared their perspectives on topics ranging from the value of public/private partnerships in closing insurance coverage gaps; the sometimes overlooked but nevertheless consequential challenges posed to insurers by climate change (e.g., the need to guide energy businesses through “transition risk” while they retool to meet rising market demand for renewable resources); and how insurers are succeeding in building resilience.

Suffice it to say, putting two intensely forward-thinking and forward-looking events like ITC 2019 and GIS’s International Conference into perspective is a tall order. Given the dizzying array of people, places and presentations that blew past us in a single week, it was reassuring to be reminded again of a few key facts. The Insurance Information Institute represents an industry that’s going all-in on reinventing itself to serve customers and make our communities safer and more prosperous. And that many are eager to join the insurance industry in bringing this vision to life. Or to borrow the words of Jay Weintraub, co-founder of InsureTech Connect: “People really care about insurance.”

Sean Kevelighan is chief executive officer of the Insurance Information Institute, a non-profit research, education and communications organization dedicated to improving public understanding of insurance — what it does and how it works.