On Dec. 3, 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the U.S. military will open all combat positions to women. This policy of greater diversity will open approximately 220,000 military roles to women in the military and create career opportunities that previously did not exist.
Diversity today is more than a politically correct action, an initiative or bullet point on an organization's marketing plan. Rather, diversity is about matching the right person to the right role, without cultural or other bias filters. And it is the imperative by which all of us in the insurance industry ensure inclusiveness, as well as harnessing the diversity of new ideas and innovation. These are the pillars that support the relevance and sustainability of our marketplace.
Global management consultancy McKinsey & Co., in its 2015 report, “Diversity Matters,” reported data from public companies in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Europe. Among the many impressive findings were these: Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. That same financial return data jumps to 35% when examined through the lens of race and ethnicity.
The point is this: Society has moved beyond diversity as a talking point. Being more diverse is good for business, and is a value at the core of the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA).
Our Diversity and Inclusiveness statement put into policy what many of our members had already begun to practice: to operate in a way that reflects the diversity of the industry, the customer base and the communities where we operate, while promoting the equal treatment of all with dignity and respect. The AAMGA's Diversity Committee comprises all of the diversity demographics of our members, their customers and markets.
However, we also need to practice what we preach.
To that end, we have extended our educational partnerships to include Gallaudet University, a private university in Washington, D.C., for the deaf, which has started its first risk management and insurance program.
This is a community largely underserved, despite needing creative insurance solutions just like the rest of us.
We have also joined with New Mexico State University to further support the all-Hispanic class of risk management and insurance students. We’re working with these additional universities, risk management and insurance programs, and students, so they can be better prepared to enter our industry after graduation.
Additionally, for the first time in AAMGA's 90-year-history, we have three talented women on our board of directors, and two additional outstanding female specialty insurance professionals will stand for election to the board in 2016.
The specialty insurance community embraces diversity as a value. These principles better reflect the needs of the entire marketplace. By codifying diversity, AAMGA will empower a diverse network of underwriting insurance specialists, improve access to worldwide insurance markets and encourage a greater commitment to industry-wide diversity.
Bernd G. Heinze, Esq., is executive director of the King of Prussia, Pa.-based American Association of Managing General Agents.