Close your eyes and imagine an insurance professional. It’s highly unlikely that you envisioned a Black man and you wouldn’t be alone. The insurance industry, historically, has been very white and very male. But on Friday June 18 a virtual flash mob of 75 Black male insurance professionals took place. How many young Black people follow them into this industry may very well depend on what happens on college campuses around the country this Fall.
COVID-19 has complicated the on-campus experience but for HBCUs around the country, there’s simply more spirit than the pandemic can kill. Class is in session and young people everywhere now embark on their career trajectories. For far too many, however, the idea of making a living in the insurance industry is foreign. Some of that is certainly due to the fact that many have no background in or connection to the insurance industry. Still, the same could be said of a variety of fields that many young Black people routinely pursue, from engineering to medicine. The greater issue is awareness and the intentionality of the industry in introducing these opportunities. Just as college basketball programs find the motivation to chase Black talent from states away, the insurance industry must see the value of young Black college students and introduce them to the insurance sector.
The insurance industry has always offered economic opportunities to people. For Black people especially, it represents a peculiar hope in that it was a place in the economy where, without a college education, one could safely arrive in the middle class. As some firms are beginning to emphasize the value of bachelor degrees, Black students are earning degrees at historic rates– Black women, in fact, outpace all others in educational attainment now. There is ample evidence that Black talent is abundant on campuses across the country and especially at our HBCUs. The singular question is whether the insurance industry will collectively recognize, value and pursue it. How firms answer this question will undoubtedly lead directly to greater growth and profitability or stagnation and in time, decline.