All too often, the insurance field is referred to as a “male, pale, stale” industry, and with good reason. Historically, most insurance professionals in leadership roles have been white men. While there have been efforts over the last several years to increase the number of women in leadership roles, the overall progress in the industry has been largely inadequate to address the lack of diversity regarding not only gender but also race and ethnicity.
In late 2018, MJ sought to be more intentional about our diversity efforts. However, our approach was primarily geared towards the lack of gender diversity among leadership. Even then, we struggled to design processes and programs due to lack of knowledge and understanding of how to progress in this area. Although discussions surrounding diversity and race were happening across our organization, admittedly it was never a top priority where the conversations translated into action. We knew this was important – we just didn’t know how to move forward.
Fast forward to the heart-wrenching moment of May 25, 2020 – when George Floyd was killed. The visibility of that event, along with the circumstances surrounding it, triggered emotions for all of us. We quickly realized that event would be a catalyst for many, including MJ, that would lead to an array of responses from both individuals and organizations nationwide.
For the MJ team, that event crystallized the reality that we all have a responsibility to act, and to act now. Again, while we didn’t know how to respond, we clearly understood that our response profoundly impact the outcomes we achieved moving forward. We were no longer willing to sit by and hear others refer to our industry as “male, pale and stale” and not do anything about it.
The killing of George Floyd served as a turning point for MJ as we adapted our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE+I). Our team pivoted from handling these issues in a passive manner to becoming more intentional and active in our approach. One key outcome was 16 of our associates volunteering to help lead this initiative through uncomfortable conversations and vulnerability. These associates now form our DE+I Council.
Since then, our DE+I Council has been hard at work developing a DE+I roadmap for MJ. The Council chose seven dimensions to explore and develop as we progress along this journey to a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace – not only regarding race, but all other demographics including gender and sexual orientation. Those seven dimensions are Value, Voice, Culture, Opportunity, Respect, Authenticity and Transparency. The Council is actively engaging each of these dimensions to continue learning and engaging with our associates regularly.
Full disclosure – we are still very much in learning mode. Since that catalyzing event in 2020, the MJ team has been listening and immersing themselves in others’ life experiences while seeking to understand perspectives different than their own. We recognize the need to begin with educating ourselves and to engage in listening and learning at this stage in our journey. We know we have a long way to go, but we’re fully committed to seeing this through no matter how long it takes – we’re in it for the long haul.
At the end of the day, our goal is for all our associates and future hires to be able to say in confidence that they feel safe at MJ. For every current and future individual at MJ to feel genuinely safe and free to be themselves and live their truth. That is our end game.
We look to 2022 with excitement to continue this journey, as we continue to adapt, learn and grow along the way.