What is the insurance industry doing to elevate people of color?
When Amy O’Connor, Insurance Journal’s southeast editor, raised the question to Black insurance industry professionals during a special webinar last summer, Nina Boone, senior client partner, chief commercial officer, Power of All, Korn Ferry, began her response by describing the industry’s relationship with its Black professionals as “an abusive one.”
“When I look at organizations in terms of advancement, what’s happening is nothing,” she said.
Boone, who is also the former U.S. chair of Aon’s Diversity & Inclusion Board, quoted a friend who observed, “You tell me that there’s opportunity and you get me excited about it—and yet nothing ever happens.”
Boone also told O’Connor that she had recently had a conversation with a client whose firm had a goal of developing 100 Black colleagues. “What are you going to do with them after you develop them?” Boone recalled asking.
“You saw it with women; you see it with people of color: What [companies] do is they put them in development programs, and they send them to these great [programs] that do cost a little bit of money. Sometimes. And then we get back and we say, ‘We’re ready.'”
“But guess what? They never planned for us to be ready. Or they did plan and then they’re not going to give us what it is that they now paid to prepare us for.”
“Companies are spending a lot of money developing talent—Black talent, brown talent, LGBTQ, female talent—and doing very little with them. Instead you’re just preparing them for the next company,” Boone concluded.
Boone went on to talk about the lack of advancement opportunities for Black women, in particular.
“Black women are the No. 1 entrepreneur group in the country. This is not a coincidence. This is because they cannot get anywhere in their current organization,” she said, also describing the long odds they face in raising capital. “Yet they do. Isn’t that someone you want on your leadership team?” she asked.
Another webinar speaker, Mernice Oliver, president of Mernice Oliver International, provided a living example of the lack of follow-through that forces Black candidates for leadership to leave the industry. The former agent is now a business consultant whose firm helps women launch, build and grow their own thriving insurance agencies.
Agreeing with Boone, she said: “We do a great job of developing programs…We do a great job of getting ready. But once you get us ready, where are you taking us? Where are the opportunities?”
“We had to leave the industry and build our own road map—[build] our own highway for success,” said Oliver, who is also founder and CEO of the National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance.
The full webinar, “How the Insurance Industry Can Be an Active Ally to the Black Community,” which also features Tyler Whipple, vice president of Inclusive Excellence at American Family Insurance, is available on demand on the Research section of Carrier Management’s website.
Read more about it on Insurance Journal in the Dec. 7, 2020 article, “Moment of Change.”