WASHINGTON, DC: January 19, 2022 — The National African American Insurance Association (NAAIA) is launching the second installment to its groundbreaking research on Blacks/African Americans in the insurance industry: “The Next Steps on the Journey: Has Anything Changed?”
“On one hand, there is a prevailing sense from Blacks/African Americans in the sector that companies are seeking to find credible and practical ways to solve longstanding inequities,” says Omari Jahi Aarons, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, NAAIA. “However, the report highlights that many of these actions are falling short because they are not addressing inequities at the foundational level.”
Through quantitative and personal insights from more than 650 professionals in the risk and insurance industry, the study sheds light on some of the strides the industry has made over the past five years, but also lays bare the opportunity-deficit Blacks/African Americans still face in the industry. For example,
Most survey respondents agreed that their organizations were committed to diversity (60%) and inclusion (61%), and nearly half of those surveyed felt that their organizations were committed to advancing equity (43%) and equality (48%).
Half of respondents felt there was evidence of support of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies from management (50%) and CEOs (51%) at their organizations.
Respondents identified the tragic murder of George Floyd and many other Blacks/African Americans and People of Color as the catalyst for centering conversations on race and the risk and insurance industry has responded with a host of new initiatives to address disparities. Respondents reported increased exposure from initiatives specifically DEI-related training (57%), support for employee resource groups (35%) and mentorship programs (21%). However, these initiatives have not translated to career advancement.
A higher percentage of survey participants marked racial and gender bias as top barriers to entry to the industry over those surveyed five years ago.
Most respondents felt that lack of promotions or advancement is the most significant barrier to retention (75%), followed by lack of growth opportunities (70%) and lack of mentorship (68%).
84% of respondents remarked that they continue to encounter obstacles in their career progress compared to other under-represented groups because of either conscious or unconscious racial bias.
The report also highlights changes employers, professionals and organizations like NAAIA can make to meaningfully cultivate and empower Blacks/African Americans.
“There is no single panacea for solving this systemic challenge,” said Dr. Leroy D. Nunery, II, President, Evolution Advisors, who conducted the study. “It will require both widespread industry action and individual initiative to create a more equitable risk and insurance industry.”
Survey respondents recommended improvements risk and insurance organizations could make to more fully prioritize DEI. The top three recommendations were:
Enhancing recruitment and talent identification initiatives, including a greater focus on recruitment from HBCUs and institutions with substantially diverse student populations, and the promotion of Blacks/African Americans to officer-level roles.
Addressing compensation and pay inequities, while increasing pay transparency.
Increasing levels and frequency of mentorships and providing more opportunities to network with executives.
Marsh McLennan, the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people, supported the research.
“Studies like ‘The Next Steps on the Journey’ can serve as a blueprint for the industry to better design programs that meaningfully advance Black/African American leaders in insurance and risk management,” said Moreland Murray, Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer and Chief People Officer, Corporate, Marsh McLennan. “We are committed to DEI leadership in our industry, and through support of this research and the investments we are making in recruitment, training, mentorship and sponsorship programs for Black/African American talent, hope to be a beacon for Black/African Americans professionals in the industry.”