Move out of your comfort zone. Embrace failure.

Executive Summary

While Black professionals in the insurance industry often experience the need to prove their abilities in order to be promoted to positions of responsibility and leadership, they see white men scaling their company's org charts without records of success to demonstrate their potential to lead. Here, two Black executives discuss inequitable "proof vs. potential" standards that were also revealed in a recent survey of Black insurance professionals posted on LinkedIn. They also describe the pressure to avoid failureā€”a particular burden that stifles risk-taking in an industry that should be rewarding "fail-fast-and-learn" models of innovation.

The two ideas are ever-present in articles telling property/casualty insurance leaders what they need to do to create innovative cultures and build the momentum to speed their companies forward on enviable upward growth curves.

But with white insurance leaders unwilling to budge from the security of what’s familiar, and Black executives discouraged from risky ventures that could either propel their careers forward or result in failure, the industry has yet to embrace another key driver of organizational success: racially diverse workforces and leadership teams.

In 2016, McLagan, a subsidiary of Aon, reported that 98 percent of the executives at stock insurers and 93 percent of the executives for mutuals were white. For both types of companies, white employees made up 83 percent of their workforces, while Black men and women accounted for just 7 percent. More recently, S&P Global Market Intelligence, compiling data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, found the numbers haven’t changed very much over the past decade. In 2019, Black employees represented 12.4 percent of the insurance carrier workforce, S&P found.

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