Amid a shortage of P&C industry talent, brokerages should heed the fact there may be a subtle risk to failing to address diversity — employee attrition.
Brokers working in organizations without diversity in senior leadership are three times more likely to be actively looking for another job (27%) versus organizations with diverse senior leadership (10%), said 322 respondents to a Canadian Underwriter online survey fielded in Jan. and Feb. 2023 and made possible with the support of Sovereign Insurance.
On top of this, nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents across all brokerages say they have left or considered leaving an employer for one or more of these reasons:
- Toxic co-workers or environment (36%)
- Lack of career advancement opportunities (30%)
- Unmanageable workload (26%)
“I was let go [from two previous] jobs for bringing up harassment and assault,” said one millennial respondent at an urban Ontario brokerage, in a verbatim response.
For some, unfulfilled policies can wreck the workplace experience. “Whistleblower policy ignored,” said another millennial respondent, in a company with some diversity at the senior level.
But for others, leaving isn’t on their radar.
“As a well settled family with four school-going children in a small town, I do not think of moving even if there are better opportunities in the insurance fields,” said one gen-X respondent at a brokerage with some diversity at the senior level.
Nevertheless, the majority (84%) of broker respondents agree they must address diversity to be a successful business.
But organizations with no diversity within their senior leadership are less likely to agree, and another 28% say that they can be successful without addressing diversity.
Across brokerages that aren’t leading in diversity, the top cited threats they see themselves facing if they don’t address diversity are:
- Losing good employees (46%)
- Losing access to the best new talent (42%)
- The risk of homogeneity – group think (35%)
“DE&I is a business imperative. Not embracing will have negative impacts on performance over time,” said a respondent at an urban Ontario brokerage with some diversity in its senior leadership.
“Our organization treats everyone with respect and dignity regardless of race, gender identity or age. We already embrace diversity and this has contributed to the success of the brokerage,” said another respondent in a company that is leading in diversity.
However, one respondent lamented that a brokerage’s diversity only goes as far as the diversity of its surrounding community.
“How can there be a ‘diverse’ workplace when the population of the town that agency is in, isn’t diverse?” posed a millennial respondent in a rural Western brokerage.
What’s more, hearing racial, ethnic and gender-based jokes is more than twice as prevalent at brokerages without any diversity in senior leadership (31% vs. 13%). That number is 10% higher than what was seen in the 2022 survey results.
On the other hand, those working in brokerages with leading diversity in senior leadership are significantly more likely to agree their workplace will take appropriate action in response to incidents of discrimination (97%) compared to those who aren’t leading, which average 90%.
The figure is even lower for those working at companies with no diversity in senior leadership (80%).
However, lack of diversity in the workplace is concerning for less than a third of brokers, driven mainly by those at firms without, or with only some, senior level diversity. The concern level in 2023 dropped 7% compared to last year’s results.
Feature image by iStock.com/YinYang