13 March 2024news

Diversity critical to future success of industry

The captive insurance industry has become far more diverse than it used to be – but there is still further to go if it is to ensure it is fit for purpose and attracts the talent it needs in the future.

That was the message from a panel at opening session of the Day Two of the 2024 Captive Insurance Companies Association (CICA) annual conference. 

The panel comprised: Jennifer Allen, director, Insurance & Risk Solutions, IFO Group; Kirsten Bay, chief executive of Cysurance; Renea Louie, chief operations officer, Pro Group Captive Management Services; and Kevin Yousif, president, Yousif Capital Management. 

The panel agreed that diversity is more than just a trendy buzzword – when businesses have diverse teams they reap the benefits of higher profitability, greater innovation, better decision-making, and more engaged employees.  

However, while the positive impact of workplace diversity is well studied and documented, companies still struggle to get it right due to challenges in hiring and a lack of understanding of exactly what creates diversity.  

The panel agreed that the captive insurance industry has come a long way from how it was 20 years ago, when one of the major challenges for a diverse workplace was a lack of representation and inclusion. Many industries and companies struggled to create an environment where individuals from different backgrounds & identities felt valued and had equal opportunities for growth and advancement. 

Every member of the panel stressed that it is important to push forward when it comes to making the firms they work at as well as the captive industry as a whole, more diverse. 

As Louie pointed out, 20 years ago women struggled to be seen as equal men in many facets of the workplace. Bay stressed that she always wanted to be a chief executive and refused to admit that she could not be. 

And Yousif told his own personal story of how he arrived in the US Mid-west in 1983 as an immigrant from Iraq who had to learn English from the TV show Happy Days. The entire panel underlined that change does not happen on its own but through hard work and self-advancement. 

A diverse team makes the team smarter, the panel pointed out, adding that publicly traded companies with diverse leadership are 70% more likely to capture a new market and 45% more likely to improve market share than companies without diverse leadership. 

It’s not hard to find diverse candidates, they agreed – as long as you look in the right places. The panel said it was important to build relationships with diverse organisations such as the National Association for Advancement of Women in Insurance or the International Association of Black Actuaries. 

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