The insurance industry is powerful, and its history is unique. While some sectors of commerce exist solely to maximize profit, the insurance business model is one that has always worked to create financial security for many individuals and families. As America continues to evolve and diversify as a nation, the insurance industry will inevitably need to adapt, also. Opportunity will continue to expand for the insurance industry, so long as firms are equipped to recognize it, in all its shades.
“The relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance has strengthened over time.” That fact, as reported by McKinsey & Company, is far too important to ignore. Profitability in the future will hinge, in large part, on the degree to which firms adapt to a changing world. There is much work to be done. Today the percentage of Blacks in the insurance industry roughly mirrors the percentage in the general population. The numbers shift dramatically, however, on the executive levels: Black representation is sorely lacking. Yet the necessity to change is evident, as McKinsey & Company has concluded: in 2019, top-quartile companies with respect to diversity outperformed those in the fourth by 36 percent in profitability.
“Fewer candidates of color will enter the industry if they perceive there is no opportunity to build their careers.” This simple statement, published in The Journey of African American Insurance Professionals, highlights the core of the problem. The data indicate that profitability and growth are now and for the foreseeable future rooted in diversity. Black talent, in particular, is critical to this equation. As firms seek to expand their influence and ultimately, profits, there must be a greater effort to recruit, retain and promote Black talent. As insurance employers commit to take on Black talent from some of America’s best universities and other sources, they will benefit tremendously.
Newcomers, naturally, bring fresh perspectives to any industry; this is especially so when those individuals come from diverse backgrounds. Further, they position their firms much better to reach a broader range of potential customers. Firms will increase their value as they diversify their talent pool but in the form of internships, they do so at minimal risk. Internships are the most basic proving ground: those who excel create their own opportunities and those who don’t go by the wayside. #1000blackinterns isn’t a movement to give anyone anything but rather, daring the status quo to allow more individuals to demonstrate the value they can bring to the industry.