Diversity and equity strategies need more ‘teeth’ – Munich Re exec

“I still remember hearing about secretarial bathrooms where all the women work on a separate floor away from the men,” Julie told the insurance business.

“There have been instances, such as in a meeting or an industrial social setting, where comments were made that could be seen as sexist.

“You had to figure out the best way to respond in those situations because you still wanted to be respectful.”

Jolly, who is now the broker relations lead for Munich Re America, said the insurance industry has come a long way, but not far enough, to create a truly inclusive industry.

“Have we done a better job of having conversations about gender and race disparity in our industry? Yes,” she said.

“But now the responsibility remains with everyone in our industry to put some teeth into these conversations.”

“still way to go”

At Munich Re, Julie is responsible for leading strategic engagements and expanding relationships with brokerage partners. Prior to that, she worked with WTW as a global client advocate and spent 12 years with AIG, where she served as vice president and executive director of client engagement for AIG’s USA South region.

Since it began in insurance, the industry has made incremental progress in moving the needle for women, minorities, and other historically oppressed groups.

“It was great to watch our industry evolve,” said Julie. “There are members of the industry who are doing a great job when it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), but we still have a way to go.”

But it also posed a question to companies: “How do we become more inclusive by having more diverse employees who are part of the success we are trying to achieve while making an impact on the communities in which we do business?”

The Munich Re CEO sees her experience as a black woman trying to climb the insurance ranks as a unique challenge during a time when few people like her worked as mentors and sponsors.

“I was looking for role models who had gone up and been promoted [to senior levels] within companies so I feel like I can do that, too.”

“But there were a few people of color in senior and executive positions when I started in this industry. So, [one of the challenges was] Feeling comfortable navigating companies where you were the only person of color in the meeting, looking for opportunities for promotion and senior executives who could sponsor you.”

Two steps to DE&I

To help create more opportunities for young insurance professionals, Jolie has given time and advocacy to groups working to promote diversity and equality. Co-led the HYPE (Helping Young Professionals Excel) Program for the African American National Insurance Association – Atlanta Chapter.

What more can insurance leaders do to move the industry closer to a more diverse and inclusive place?

The first step is to demonstrate an honest and genuine commitment to diverse and inclusive recruitment and retention practices, according to Julie.

“It’s great for us to want to push these initiatives to the average employees of our companies, but the lack of commitment from the senior and executive levels will make it particularly difficult,” she said.

Exploring historically black colleges and universities for potential employees, providing resources for employees of diverse backgrounds, and creating spaces of support and community for individuals affected by discrimination because of their race, gender, age, or other factors are some of the ways organizations can position themselves to succeed in their own programs. education and industrial development.

The second step, according to Jolly, is to create ongoing conversations between leadership and staff about uncomfortable issues, such as the persistence of violence against blacks and minorities.

“When you look at companies that are having these tough or difficult conversations, they are more oriented toward solutions and understanding rather than being afraid to step into the water,” she said.

What are your thoughts on DE&I’s journey in the insurance industry? Share it below.

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