As major insurers continue to implement initiatives designed to build the workplace of the future, independent agents are taking note and considering how inclusivity will impact both the future of the industry, as well as their business. However, some agency owners may wonder if it’s feasible to make the financial and time commitment to rethink their approach to talent and whether there’s sufficient value to their business.
Studies show investing in a more inclusive talent pool is a smart business decision.
As carriers and others have experienced, those who integrate strategies for inclusion will benefit in numerous ways including cultivating a happier, more engaged team, attracting quality talent and demonstrating to new and existing customers your agency’s commitment to social good.
Why diversity equity and inclusion benefit businesses?
A strong DEI program can boost employee satisfaction and improve profitability. Data from Changeboard found diverse work environments can translate to staff working 12% harder, as well as to team members who are 19% more likely to stay with the company. Per 2017 data from McKinsey, gender diverse businesses saw a 21% rise in profitability and ethnically and culturally diverse businesses saw a 33% rise.
A comprehensive approach to inclusion and belonging will help attract new talent and our industry has a talent gap to fill. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the next few years, 50% of the industry’s workforce will retire, leaving at least 400,000 positions vacant. Agency owners will need to find new sources of talent and an emphasis on broader inclusion may help to identify and attract qualified individuals from different backgrounds who can lend valuable perspectives and skillsets.
Additionally, today’s employees have made it clear they want to work at businesses that are socially conscious and dedicated to employing a workforce that reflects the communities it serves. In fact, a survey from Glassdoor found that 76% of surveyed employees and job seekers stated a diverse workforce is a key element they consider when evaluating companies and job offers.
Consumers want to work with socially conscious companies. Socially conscious companies are not just appealing to job candidates, consumers are increasingly looking to conduct business with owners who demonstrate a commitment to social good. Independent agents sharing this commitment can differentiate themselves from their competition to prospective clients, as well as existing customers.
Take steps toward a fully inclusive workplace
Our industry has demonstrated the clear benefits of implementing inclusion initiatives, and we have learned from insurance thought leaders that three foundational components can be a helpful place for independent agents to begin:
Consult other independent agents. Reach out to colleagues about how they have succeeded in building a diverse workplace. Working with other agents can provide inspiration for thoughtful new initiatives and help to identify useful industry resources. We found great success in recent years with this approach. Our IICF IDEA Council is made up of cultural and human resources leaders from across the industry and provides a forum for these leaders to exchange ideas and share strategies so we can all find success.
Reach out to underrepresented talent. This could include high school graduates, people returning to the workforce, veterans, LGBTQ+ individuals and more. These individuals often offer different perspectives due to their diverse skill sets and experiences that can inspire innovation within your agency and establish new customer relationships. Consider collaborating with community organizations, schools, the Chamber of Commerce and others to get the conversation started.
Attend industry events. Networking with colleagues also can offer invaluable insights on developing an inclusive workplace.
As our industry moves toward the future, agency owners will continue looking for ways to differentiate their organizations from the pack, and developing an inclusive workplace is a great place to begin.
By creating a workplace that inspires employee happiness and diversity of thought, they can also create an environment that attracts quality new talent and a business that keeps clients and prospects engaged.
Betsy Myatt is vice president and chief program officer for the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, as well as executive director for the Northeast Division. Betsy has led IICF’s Women in Insurance Conference Series, now the Inclusion in Insurance Conference Series, since its inception in 2013. The IICF's Regional Forums—taking place in June 2024 in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas—will gather leaders from across the industry to discuss building a fully inclusive workplace and more.