A Guide to Hiring Diversely for Small Insurance Companies: Part 2

In Part 2 of this series on hiring diversely, we cover how to embed diversity into the hiring strategy. We break down why inviting more people to participate in the process strengthen your business and makes sound economic sense.

5 months ago   •   6 min read

By Audry Torrence
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion makes insurance companies more profitable
Table of contents

In Part 2 of this series on hiring diversely, we will cover how to embed diversity into the hiring strategy. Part 1 covered why hiring diversely increases profitability, however, most small insurance companies lack a plan or strategy for it.

How to hire with a diversity mindset

Why does an insurance business hire? The reasons are growth, replacement, and opportunistic hiring.

Growth

Add to staff to increase revenue: hire producers, sales, product line managers, and territory managers to grow your top line.

Add to staff to service growth that has already occurred: hire CSRs, account managers, and renewal teams to retain your business

New hires for new reasons: hire when your company’s technology is evolving, your finance department needs more specialization, your marketing department could use a social media manager, or you are expanding to new regions.

Replacement

Whether because of promotion, retirement, or other types of departures, employees likely need to be replaced when a position becomes vacant.

Vertafore’s current survey results show the insurance agency employee turnover rate has grown to 20%, up from almost 12% in 2017.

Opportunistic hiring

There are several types of opportunistic hiring. For a company that is top of mind and whose open positions are well advertised, an inbound flow of jobseekers could lead to opportunistic hiring.

Changes in a competitor’s remote work policy might prompt its employees to look for work elsewhere, changes in personal or family situations could bring people back to the labor force, and poor business results or negative forecasts at a competitor might spur its staff to look outside.

Mergers and acquisitions are at an all-time high in the insurance agency arena. The merger and acquisition environment is a trend worth following as many talented people leave insurance organizations during a sale. Follow the news. Be opportunistic about hiring people who are displaced or otherwise unhappy with their changed situation.

On the other side of the equation, you might be positioning your own business for a sale, merger, or acquisition. Perhaps you need to reconfigure your team and hire additional staff to make this event feasible.

“There were 1,034 announced insurance agency mergers and acquisitions in 2021, up 30% from the 795 reported in 2020"

OPTIS Partners' North American Agent & Broker 2021 Year-End Merger & Acquisition Report.

Different backgrounds and viewpoints strengthen a company

What is a Diversity Mindset?

A company that is diversity-ready is better positioned in the employee marketplace than one that is not.

A diversity mindset is an outreach method that includes more people in the hiring process.

Having a diversity mindset and being diversity-ready when hiring is an important attribute of an organization. Having plans and methods to reach more demographic groups than previously reached will increase the talent pool for your company.

A diversity mindset is an outreach method that includes more people in the hiring process. The job responsibilities remain the same, the standards of performance don’t change; what is different is the inclusive act of communicating the hiring need to a broader audience. This gives more people the opportunity to take part in the interview process and demonstrate that they are the best person for the job.

Getting There From Here

What is DEI?

Diversity is the demographic composition of employees as a group.

Equity is the fairness and impartiality with which opportunity and reward is provided.

Inclusion is the intentional creation of a culture of belonging for employees.

In the workplace, there are seven general types of diversity to act upon:

  1. Cultural
  2. Disability
  3. Gender
  4. Generational
  5. Racial/Ethnic
  6. Religious
  7. Sexual Orientation

Consider these diversity groups as well. For a detailed look, see this list of 39 Types of Diversity.

  • Cognitive/Neurodiversity
  • Criminal history
  • Economic
  • Education
  • Geographical diversity
  • Household composition: Individual, Familial, Parental, Marital
  • Military experience

Preparing a diversity-ready environment

The first hires from any diversity group will be trailblazers in an organization. We must include them as a part of the company’s current culture and future direction. Prepare the landing place for your new employees. DEI is not about meeting a quota. It is not a list of steps to bolt onto the business. It is a shift in thought, perception, and awareness that is embedded into the organization.

D (Diversity) is one strand of a three-part cord, along with E (Equity) and I (Inclusion)

Have conversations with all employees about the company becoming inclusive and equitable. The IIABA (”Big i“) has an excellent diversity resource section to help foster these conversations and develop diversity. Rough Notes magazine also provides information about beginning the DEI groundwork.

Equity and inclusion are necessary for everyone, including current employees. Employee benefits that are inclusive and equitable could include:

  • Providing adoption benefits along with maternity and paternity leave
  • Having belief-based or socially conscious investment options among the company’s 401(k) funds
  • Offering health insurance that includes all household members not only those who are related
  • Reimbursing professional certification or tuition.

Don’t force a diversity training session on your employees. “Diversity training” as a one-and-done, absent any other cultural change, has been shown in various studies to have more negative than positive effects.

Start local when beginning to reach more diverse pools of applicants and expand from there

How to find new employees: where to source for diversity

An insurance industry survey showed that 35% of insurance organizations do not know where to find minority candidates or how to hire diversely (Margaret Spence, APCIA Human Resources Conference, April 2022).

Diversity and inclusion begin with developing a job description and criteria that accurately reflect the needs of the organization and the outcomes sought.

  • Is a college degree necessary for success in a role, or is that requirement inadvertently leading to racial, gender, and socioeconomic sameness?
  • Must they perform the job during certain hours of the day (answering phones between 8:30 and 5:00) or can this job be results-oriented (completing reports weekly)? Providing flexibility in location and hours will open the hiring process to a more diverse pool of candidates.
  • For onsite jobs, is the building and office a safe and navigable location for a person who uses a scooter or wheelchair? The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides information and private employer resources about hiring people with diverse neurological, cognitive, and physical abilities.
Build a diverse employee group by expanding your outreach and job advertising. The media outlets, websites, and groups where the job is posted will shape the applicant pool.

When more people from more diverse groups know you are hiring, your applicant pool and candidate list will reflect greater diversity. Again, the best person for the job will be hired, but we need to invite more people to participate in the process.

Where to post your jobs? The list is potentially exhaustive. The Diversity Job Board is a likely starting place. This list of 30 Top Diversity Job Boards is another. Search for insurance organizations’ job boards or diversity groups, then post your jobs to them. Search for minority or diversity associations and find their employment or job board page, then post to those. Here are some examples:

“If you don’t think outside the box, you’re just recycling the same individuals over and over again. Our industry needs new blood in it”.

Frank Acosta, Miami-based President and CEO of The Risk Management Group Inc. “Business Insurance, April 26, 2021: “Recognizing bias, changing recruitment key to D&I”

Businesses need people: employees, customers, vendors, and other constituents. Diversity, equity, and inclusion among all these people is a noble goal. DEI among your employees is a must-have.

The United States’ demographic mix is changing. Businesses that ignore the need – and the opportunity – to create diverse teams will become obsolete and dated. Diversity is not optional.

Thankfully, the insurance industry has a rapidly growing awareness of these needs and the resources to meet them. As an industry, we are working hard to attract new talent. When diversity, equity, and inclusion are embedded into the hiring process, the insurance industry will become the employment destination it has always deserved to be.

Special thank you to the author of the article, Audry Torrence, who is an Executive Vice President at Stephens Rickard Ltd., an executive search and recruiting firm serving the property and casualty insurance industry. She is passionate about contributing to the industry and can be reached at audry@stephensrickard.com or through LinkedIn and Twitter.

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