This year’s Joint Industry Forum (JIF) featured a panel titled “A 21st Century Workforce that Reflects the Communities We Serve,” with the speakers discussing the move to increase diversity in the insurance industry.
Moderated by Margaret Redd, Executive Director, National African-American Insurance Association (NAAIA), the panelists noted that the push to create diversity must be intentional. This, according to Craig Lapham, CEO, The Lapham Group, whose organization specializes in recruiting within the industry, becomes more difficult with the increased desire for specialists. “The generalist is not favored anymore,” Lapham said. “The question is often, ‘who do we know,’ when it should be ‘where do we go?’”
The panel agreed. Although hiring individuals who are highly familiar with the industry can mitigate short-term risk, there may be long-term risk. For the panelists, missing out on highly capable talent to other industries was in itself a concern; to lose this talent because the industry wasn’t willing to look beyond exactly-relevant credentials was myopic.
In fact, for panelist Denise Campbell, AVP, National Accounts, AIG, the insurance industry wasn’t originally part of her plans. After graduating from New York University with a major in music technology, Campbell joined AIG as an administrative assistant. Yet she invested in the company, and in turn, AIG invested in her. She admitted than when she first started rising through the ranks of the company, she would readily admit experience she didn’t have. Yet she knew she could learn. “It was important to have people that believed in me,” Campbell said. For Campbell, many of her first champions were from employee resource groups for African-Americans.
The panel also discussed the shift in age of many employees within the insurance industry. With older generations retiring, the speakers remarked that the next cohort of talented insurance professionals need to be nurtured. Randa Rawlins, Executive Vice President, Shelter Insurance, stated how important it is for millennials and Gen Z to join the insurance industry. However, she acknowledged that challenges remain.
“Millennials want tech savvy, big projects,” Rawlins posited. The panel concurred, remarking that the insurance industry is striving to create more opportunities of this kind.
“They’re also very focused on people management,” said Deborah Aldredge, Chief Administrative Officer, Shelter Insurance.
The speakers noted that although there have been measures to recruit more millennials, it’s still unclear what the future holds. Indeed, recognizing the human element of insurance will continue to be enormously important for the future of the industry and its success.
As part of our series of profiles of insurance professionals, we interviewed Darla Finchum, Head of MetLife Auto & Home. She is responsible for growth and management of the company’s personal and small commercial lines, as well as transforming the business to meet the needs of today’s technology-focused consumers. Finchum is also an active member of MetLife’s U.S. Business Diversity & Inclusion Task Force.
I.I.I.: Please tell us a little about your professional background. How did you end up working in insurance and what has your career trajectory been like at MetLife?
Darla Finchum: I’ve spent my career in personal insurance in the property and casualty industry. I started right out of college in the claims organization of an insurance carrier. Claims is where we put people’s lives back together in some of the most devastating moments. I developed a passion for what insurance does for people and for society. It is such a noble profession.
Once I knew that I had a passion and intellectual curiosity for insurance and what the industry stood for, I sought out roles and opportunities in various parts of the insurance business—from underwriting to sales to operations to services. I really began to understand the customer, the back end and front end, the business operations, and why it’s important for us to be a partner in the lifetime of our customers.
I came to MetLife Auto & Home through an acquisition in 2000 and have held various leadership roles including chief claims officer, prior to my current role as head of the business. It’s a real privilege to lead MetLife Auto & Home, drive our business growth and ultimately be there for our customers.
In your early career, has there been a mentor or boss who particularly encouraged and inspired you? If so, is there anything they said or did that you still draw on in your role as leader?
DF: I have been fortunate to meet, connect, and build mentor relationships with many individuals in both my professional and personal lives. My network and group of trusted advisors include former bosses, colleagues both inside and outside my organization, as well as individuals I’ve connected with outside of work, people I have met in life. I believe it’s essential to have a network you can call on, who will tell you what you need to hear and be there in pivotal moments to help in making those big decisions.
Most organizations agree that a diverse workforce is a good thing. Sometimes overshadowed by discussions about diversity is the topic of inclusion. One HR consultant described diversity as the “who” and inclusion as the “how”. How is MetLife promoting inclusion?
DF: MetLife has developed initiatives designed to strengthen an inclusive work environment. Designed in collaboration with human resources partners, business leaders, and external resources, the initiatives focus on three pillars: Attraction, Development/Advancement, and Retention. We define inclusion as a commitment to recognizing and appreciating the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that promotes and celebrates individual and collective achievement aligned to our values. We promote a culture where we respect others and listen for both facts and feelings to show respect for others’ perspectives. We focus on commonalities and value differences by identifying areas of agreement and shared goals.
Diversity, inclusion, and associate engagement are top priorities for me as a leader. Our Enterprise Local Inclusion Action Teams and Americas U.S. Diversity Task Force are two programs I’m involved in to promote and create inclusion across MetLife. Understanding employee values not only supports and helps them to thrive; it also has a positive impact on the business. Being involved in these enterprise teams gives me the opportunity to implement best practices across the broader organization, starting at the top with my senior leadership team.
How does MetLife go about recruiting employees from non-insurance backgrounds?
DF: It’s important for businesses to have look outside their industry to not only hire people with great experience but also individuals with intellectual curiosity, an ownership mindset, and who are willing to challenge the status quo, take risks, and experiment. MetLife leverages our recruitment marketing platform to promote jobs on our career site and various diverse job boards. In addition to job boards, our recruitment teams leverage several tools and channels to meet prospective candidates where they are and promote our employer brand, such as social media, Glassdoor, Indeed, job fairs, AI tools, community-based organizations, and employee referrals. MetLife is focused on targeting candidates who align with our core behaviors and values from a variety of industries.
What steps is MetLife taking/has taken to build a consumer-centric culture?
DF: Today’s consumers are aware of what’s possible and expect to engage with businesses on their own terms and in their preferred channels. At MetLife Auto & Home, we are focused on putting the customer at the center of our business to ensure we are delivering products and coverage our customers need, as well as quality service and experience they want.
We provide a personalized experience in which our customers can engage with us whenever, wherever, and however they chose. Whether that’s over the phone, through our website and apps, or in-person, we are a trusted advisor ensuring we provide the right types of guidance and advice to our customers.
In today’s world of emerging technologies, it’s important to have a balance of leveraging the latest technology like artificial intelligence, aerial imagery, and drones with the human connection. While digitalization and speed are core to today’s customer experience, the human connection is important in insurance. Immediately after an auto accident a customer may want to speak with a person at their carrier to verbally explain what happen, ask questions, and receive reassurance the claim will be handled. Once the initial claim has been submitted, a customer may choose to only receive updates via email and/or the app as they have the confidence in us that the claim will be properly handled.
And finally – What are you passionate about outside of work?
DF: While I’m passionate about insurance and my career, I’m just as (if not more!) passionate about my family – I strive for work-life balance. Whether it’s watching my grandson play baseball, a girl’s trip with my daughters or our annual family vacations, spending time with my family is a top priority and joy of my life. The balance of work and life is something I encourage for all our associates to make a priority. I remind them they can have it all, but they can’t do it all, so surround yourself with people who will help you along the way.
If you’re among the millions of people attending a Pride parade in your home city this weekend, look out for participating insurers.
Many companies support LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) events throughout the month of June and indeed year-round as part of their continuing commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Some 36 insurers were recently recognized as one of the “best places to work for LGBT equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, earning a perfect score of 100 percent on their 2017 Corporate Equality Index.
The number of insurers achieving the top ranking has seen a steady increase over the last decade. Read more on LGBT insurance news and developments in some of our earlier posts through the years (here, here and here),
I.I.I. chief actuary James Lynch explains why ProPublica’s analysis on auto insurance is inaccurate, unfair and irresponsible:
It looks like ProPublica failed its first actuarial exam.
The renowned investigative journalism website has, along with Consumer Reports magazine, published reports that auto insurers systematically charge unfairly high rates to people in minority and low-income communities.
It is an explosive charge—to say that in, for example, Illinois, 33 out of 34 companies the journalists looked at (including the nation’s largest insurers) all systematically price-gouged minority communities and areas with predominantly low income households.
And the charge is inaccurate.
Read Lynch’s full Op-Ed in Insurance Journal here.
Insurers are committed to recruiting to create a diverse and inclusive culture and as we celebrate International Women’s Day our industry is one of many striving to attract, develop and retain female talent.
Some 78 percent of large organizations around the world are actively trying to recruit more women, according to PwC, and we’re now seeing competition for female talent escalate to a whole new level.
The shift in numbers is underpinned by several key trends that have had the most profound impact on the improvement of gender equality in the industry in the past five years.
Active recruitment of a gender-diverse workforce was identified as the most important trend by 44 percent of respondents to the IICF survey.
Another 22 percent cited the establishment of mentorship programs for women, while a further 20 percent said the sponsorship of executive networking opportunities carried the most weight.
Interestingly, 87 percent of respondents said their company in particular is actively working to promote gender diversity, up from 68 percent last year.
Limited opportunities to move up the corporate ladder are also no longer seen as the biggest obstacle to women ascending into leadership roles. Instead, women not promoting themselves enough or effectively was identified as the biggest challenge by 35 percent of respondents.
And when it comes to the advancement of women to senior leadership roles, some 32 percent of respondents rank insurance as the most supportive industry in financial services. Last year, insurance ranked last at just 12 percent.
Erin Calvey, executive vice president at Ironshore Insurance Co. and IICF Conference Series speaker, commented:
Both as assumers of risk and as employers, insurers are in a unique position when it comes to navigating the changing legal environment and civil rights.
Recent federal and state rulings pertaining to the rights of transgender individuals raise a number of issues, and there are potential insurance implications to consider.
In March North Carolina passed a controversial law (HB 2) requiring transgender individuals to use public bathrooms that correspond to their gender at birth. This led the U.S. Justice Department to send a letter to North Carolina leaders saying the law violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX.
More than 150 CEOs and business leaders of major companies voiced their opposition. PayPal withdrew its plans for a $3.6 million investment and 400 jobs in the Tar Heel state.
Also in April, in a landmark ruling on transgender students’ rights in schools, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia decided that the U.S. Department of Education can prohibit anti-transgender discrimination under Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. (G.G. v Gloucester County School Board)
In the wake of this ruling, President Obama issued a directive instructing public schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.
Meanwhile, several federal agencies have issued strong opinions on the issue of discrimination and transgender rights, for example:
—The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has ruled that hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers cannot discriminate against patients on the basis of gender identity.
In a recent PodCast with A.M. Best on the legal issues surrounding transgender restroom access Brian Cafritz, a partner at Kalbaugh, Pfund & Messersmith Law P.C. said there could be potential implications for commercial general liability policies that cover slander, defamation, assaults, or other discrimination acts.
Cafritz also noted that as federal laws change, negligent hiring or retention claims could be raised impacting the insurance policies that cover these entities.
School districts and municipalities in particular face rising potential liability. A recent brief by Munich Re noted that policy coverage that might be impacted by transgender litigation against school personnel include:
Today marks International Women’s Day so it’s appropriate we take a look at the contribution made by women to the insurance industry.
The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) reports that women have comprised about 61 percent of the insurance industry workforce in each year from 2006 to 2015, according to the Current Population Survey (CPS), an annual survey of business establishments in private industry conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In 2015, there were 1.6 million women employed in the insurance sector, accounting for 59.4 percent of the 2.7 million workers in the insurance industry, according to the BLS.
The percentage of women in selected insurance occupations varies, ranging from 51 percent of insurance sales agents to 77 percent of insurance claims and policy clerks in 2015. In 2015, women accounted for 47 percent of all workers, based on households in the CPS survey.
An ever-increasing percentage of small businesses in the United States are owned by women. In recognition of Women’s History Month, the I.I.I. recommends six key strategies to ensure your business is financially protected.
Also check out the I.I.I’s Pinterest Board that looks at the great strides women have made in the insurance field, including profiles of some of the most influential insurance doyens today.
Dates and locations of the next four installments of the series are as follows:
-June 9, Northeast Regional Forum: New York City
-June 13, Midwest Regional Forum: Chicago
-June 21, Texas/Southeast Regional Forum: Dallas
-June 23, Western Regional Forum: Los Angeles
The IICF Women in Insurance Conference Series is designed to provide an environment for insightful discussions surrounding gender diversity in insurance, industry leadership, and the changing world and future of the insurance industry.
Primary sponsors of this year’s conference series include CNA, XL Catlin, The Hartford, FM Global, WillisTowersWatson, GenRe, Farmers Insurance, and Munich Re.
We spend a lot of time explaining why insurance is good for individuals, society and the economy as a whole, but a new report reverses that equation.
It focuses on the current and anticipated impact of women on the global insurance market.
Conducted by the International Financial Corporation (IFC), AXA and Accenture, the report estimates that women’s individual spending on insurance premiums will grow to between $1.45 trillion and $1.7 trillion by 2030–half of it in just 10 emerging economies.
That represents a doubling from the current annual premium value of the women’s global market of $770 billion.
The report cites an increased level of education, income, improved socioeconomic status, and a greater need for protection as key reasons that make women a big opportunity for insurers.
Furthermore, women entrepreneurs now represent one-third of the world’s business owners, and they need protection for their businesses. Just 31 percent of women entrepreneurs surveyed held protection or savings-oriented life insurance, for example.
The report also highlights that women’s attitudes to fraud, claims and loyalty, their roles as a trusted source of recommendations, and their relational rather than transactional approach to networks make them a valuable customer and inexpensive brand ambassador for insurers.
Women can act as strong advocates or social marketers for insurers and financial services firms, and are more likely than men to recommend a product or service to their friends and family, the report finds. They are also greatly influenced by the advice of their female peers.
Therefore, women can play a key role in explaining and selling insurance products across customer segments, and especially to other women.
What women want and need from insurance varies by age, income level and lifecycle events, however.
The report urges insurers to abandon the one-size-fits-all approach and instead identify and target segments of women who share common needs and constraints in order to take advantage of this growth opportunity.
The Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v Hodges means that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states. This has a number of implications for health, life, and auto insurance.
For example, health and life benefits that currently exist in states that recognize same-sex marriage will—once the law goes into effect—extend to all states.
Some of these benefits include: coverage of a same-sex spouse and children under health insurance plans; equal tax treatment of health insurance premiums for married gay couples; and recognition of a spouse for survivor benefits, including social security and life insurance.
For auto insurance offerings, too, this means that LGBT customers who are married will be entitled to the married rate, regardless of where they live.
Esurance, one of the first car insurers to extend the married rate to LGBT customers, points to what equality means for auto insurance in a just-issued press release here.
For LGBT couples who are married or are planning to get married, Esurance offers the following advice: