Need some help with your brokerage’s efforts to develop a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace?
Consider partnering with another organization to create recruiting or other interim partnerships, suggested Craig Pinnock, chief financial officer of Northbridge Financial Corporation.
“These are the things that don’t require a ton of money. [They] are relatively easy to do as a starting position. You have to continue the journey — you don’t get to take one step and stop,” he told a panel discussion about research on the progress of DEI programs in Canadian brokerages.
“But if you don’t take that first step to codify some of these things, you’ve lost an opportunity.”
Canadian Underwriter, with the support of Sovereign Insurance, conducted an online survey in January and February 2023, tallying 322 broker responses. This is the second consecutive year the research has been conducted.
Pinnock and other panellists noted brokerages can take advantage of many potential partner organizations within the property and casualty insurance industry to aid their DEI efforts.
How would you describe your organization’s leadership when it comes to representation from diverse groups?
|No diversity – Homogenous leadership representation||19%||16%|
|Some diversity – Mostly homogenous representation, with some diversity in gender identity, race, disability, nationality, sexual orientation or cultural background||51%||51%|
|Diverse – Over 50% of leadership team belongs to a historically marginalized or underrepresented identity group||17%||19%|
|Leading – Senior leadership reflects a vast amount of diversity||12%||14%|
“It doesn’t cost a lot of money to get involved with organizations inside the industry like the Canadian Association of Black Insurance Professionals, the Canadian Chinese Insurance Professionals Association, or Link,” said Christopher Aloussis, co-chair of Link Canada – 2SLGBTQ+ Insurance Network.
Truth and reconciliation are important to Indigenous-led organizations and to all Canadians, added Janice Gladue, chief operating officer at TIPI Group of Companies. Because it will “take more than just Indigenous People to move the needle of success,” TIPI not only has internal initiatives to support these goals but also offers help to other organizations wishing to promote these principles.
Leveraging content created by partners within your network can help your organization reduce the weight of DEI implementation, said Colette Taylor, Sovereign Insurance’s chief operating officer. Building a team of employees who champion DEI can go a long way, too.
Instead of having one DEI champion, “get a crew together and [take a] divide-and-conquer approach,” she advised. “More importantly, it needs to be a mindset that it is part of your job, part of your work to be advancing this.”
A majority of survey respondents reported formal DEI efforts aren’t underway in their workplaces, although many verbatim comments displayed openness to diversity.
“We haven’t talked about it,” said a 50-plus-year-old respondent from an urban brokerage in western Canada, “but we are just organically a pretty diverse organization.”
Others, though, said their workplaces could be more inclusive. Some noted a dissonance between the organization’s formal stance on inclusion and the actual behaviours in the workplace.
|Please rate the following regarding your organization||2023||None*||Some||Diverse||Leading||2022|
|I have heard racial, ethnic and gender-based jokes at work||28%||31%||30%||28%||13%||18%|
|I believe my organization will take appropriate action in response to incidents of discrimination||90%||80%||90%||98%||97%||92%|
|People from all backgrounds and with a range of identities have equitable opportunities to advance their careers at our organization||87%||75%||86%||93%||100%||85%|
|People of different backgrounds are given the same mentorship opportunities||85%||73%||85%||91%||94%||92%|
|We have specific mentoring for retention upon return from parental leave||50%||43%||44%||61%||74%||56%|
|Raises and promotions are examined through a DEI lens to ensure no barriers exist||64%||42%||62%||77%||94%||85%|
|We evaluate talent based on merit and do not need to change how we hire or promote to accommodate minority groups||73%||66%||69%||84%||81%||90%|
|There is a critical shortage of diverse talent within the insurance industry||69%||65%||73%||74%||50%||63%|
|The last time I hired someone, I took specific steps to address my unconscious bias||69%||63%||70%||74%||69%||69%|
|I feel safe and supported in my workplace||92%||76%||94%||98%||97%||**|
|I am actively looking for another job||17%||27%||17%||7%||10%||**|
*See chart 1 for definitions of None, Some, Diverse and Leading; ** This question not asked in 2022 survey
For example, one respondent who identified as 2SLGBTQ+ noted their teams don’t hold discussions on sexism, homophobia or racism — even though their office emphasizes equal and fair pay, and is a mix of men, women and people of colour.
“It feels verboten, perhaps because it’s viewed by the authorities as ‘politics,’” the respondent said. “The office walks the walk much better than anywhere I’ve worked. But I do wish we didn’t have to pretend systemic discrimination wasn’t a thing.”
Making a business case
Pinnock said implementing DEI efforts in the workplace isn’t just about workplace culture. It also affects the bottom line of the business.
“Those who are not concerned about the importance of diversity are not setting themselves up for longevity,” he said.
“As the world continues to push, as we have more courageous conversations, and as the buying public decides that they’ve given us enough time [to implement DEI], their purchasing dollars are going to move.”
This story is excerpted from one that appeared in the August-September print edition of Canadian Underwriter. Feature image by iStock.com/Charday Penn