Brokerage Ops the September 2021 issue

Becoming a Broker of Change

Customers are increasingly looking for insurance partners that reflect their own diverse communities.
Sponsored by Nationwide Posted on August 31, 2021

A recent Nationwide Agency Forward Survey reported that 67% of consumers said, when looking for an agent, diversity within the agency is important to them. Additionally, 84% of consumers said they place high value in working with an agency that gives back to the community.

A diverse team can help foster innovation and create a competitive edge for your firm, but the industry has been slow to hire diverse talent. This spring, Nationwide hosted a webinar on hiring and retaining diverse talent featuring a panel of experts including Rochelle Rosatto, senior vice president of diversity and inclusion for Marsh; Lissette Perez, president of the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies (LAAIA); and Margaret Redd, executive director of the National African American Insurance Association (NAAIA). The discussion provided actionable suggestions for thinking differently about hiring, culture and diversity.

When it comes to hiring, the panelists agreed the primary challenge is presenting a consistent and authentic picture of the firm’s culture so talent can bring their true selves to work. If the team lacks diversity, it is important to be upfront and share what leadership is doing to change while also creating an inclusive environment. This may include training on managing biases and understanding microaggressions. The work must be a long-term strategy with commitment, not just a box to check. Ongoing communication from leaders is also key.

The panelists shared additional ways to retain and hire.

  • Be conscious of biases that may be hindering hiring decisions. It is critically important to understand cultural differences.
  • Evaluate your policies for inclusivity not just around hiring but also development and promotions, ensuring there are equitable opportunities to succeed.
  • Change how you find talent, try community groups and local colleges, and look for regional chapters of organizations like LAAIA and NAAIA.
  • Look for new ways to get involved in your community and the organizations that are supporting and celebrating diversity.

Now is the time for businesses to cultivate that culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. Customers expect to see a diverse representation in the companies they use across industries. Our Agency Forward survey found when it comes to diverse consumers:

  • 81% of African American and 73% of Hispanic consumers look for diversity within an agency when looking for an agent.
  • 53% of African American and 49% of Hispanic consumers feel that it is important to work with an agent who reflects their ethnicity or culture.

At the same time, 91% of agents in our survey say their agency needs to take additional steps to expand its customer base by reaching more diverse customers, so there is a lot of work to be done.

Studies repeatedly show that businesses committed to DE&I are high industry performers and have greater success connecting with new customers, building innovation, and serving their communities. At Nationwide, our commitment to DE&I and being recognized as a great place to work go hand in hand. Our recognition for this commitment includes being named a Human Rights Campaign Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality (17 years) and a Fortune Best Company for Diversity (5 years).

Working with carriers like Nationwide that are committed to these efforts can help agents and brokers foster DE&I in the insurance community while reassuring their customers that they’re well protected.

These insights were uncovered through Nationwide’s ongoing Agency Forward (formerly Agent Authority) research series, which includes samples of independent insurance agents, various business owners, and consumers.

Gary Douglas is president of Nationwide National Partners.

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