Expert: diversity makes sense for insurance industry
Since 1996, Bermuda insurance companies have paid out $1.4 billion in claims for employers accused of discrimination related issues.
Chen Foley, senior vice-president, chief claims officer at Arcadian Risk Capital, revealed this at the PwC Insurance Summit on Thursday.
Speaking in a panel called “The Insurance Company of the Future: Setting the Agenda for Talent, Diversity and Inclusion”, he said: “Diversity equity and inclusion is not just about morals. There are sound business reasons for embracing it. Bermuda has become a significant market for Employment Practices Liability Insurance. You can buy an entire tower of EPLI insurance.”
During the panel it was shown that the industry itself is far from immune to DEI problems.
Ivy Kusinga, an expert on DEI in the workplace, said the insurance industry risks losing good people because of discriminatory employment practices.
Quoting a study from Frontiers in Psychology, she said: “White men are promoted based on their potential, while women and people of colour are often promoted on performance.”
“Women and people of colour in the insurance industry are often left warming the bench too long,” Ms Kusinga said. “Nobody wants to wait. People who are really good have choices. They can bet on themselves and do something else.”
She said insurance companies should be measuring and tracking data on their DEI levels.
“We should have a strong command of what the workforce looks like at the entry level, mid level and C-suite level,” she said. “You should be able to look at the metrics and govern things over time.”
She worked in learning, talent and development at Ace (now Chubb) in Bermuda for 13 years. She now lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she runs Career Vines, a firm focused on increasing diversity, specifically at the C-Suite level.
“One of the misnomers is that white men are placed outside the context of diversity, when, in fact, they are part of that diversity,” she said. “But the implications of that difference varies depending on who you are.”
She said equity is about giving people the appropriate support and visibility that they need.
She said the audience at the PwC Summit was quite diverse, but in the insurance industry senior management is predominantly white.
Panellists shared some of their own experiences.
Ann Haugh, chief executive of Axis Re, said after she had her first child several years ago, she was on maternity leave when a potential promotion opened up in her firm. She wanted it.
“No one called me about it,” she said.
When she contacted her manager, he was surprised she wanted the job so soon after having a baby.
“I said I would take it even if I had to come back early,” she said. “If I had not called or advocated for myself, I would not have gotten it. Sometimes we have to build our own confidence.”
Ms Kusinga said most traditional organisations are not designed with women or racial diversity in mind.
“Covid-19 gave us a chance to be introspective and ask, is this how we want to live?” she said. “It allowed us to challenge the status quo in a way that will allow the workforce, the workplace and environment to be better for everyone.”