Canada is known for its diverse population but does the Canadian insurance industry have the same reputation?
Over the past decade there has been a transition to hire more women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community and those with disabilities in the world of insurance, but, according to Rupinder Hayer, president of Armour Insurance, leaders still need to put in some work to welcome more diverse talent to the industry.
Read more: How to attract diverse talent to insurance
“It’s important to educate leadership about diversity and inclusion,” he said. “There needs to be a comprehensive, top-down approach.”
Executives and management should be prioritizing attending diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) workshops and strategize over what needs to be implemented to promote diverse values across an organization.
“Having diversity training for the whole team is also key, especially here in Canada,” he said. “We’re a multicultural country and there should be equal opportunities for everyone regardless of gender, sexuality, or culture.
“Participating in events such international women’s day, Pride, or indigenous festivals can also have very positive impacts on workplace culture.”
Another strategy Hayer noted would benefit the industry is providing more mentorship opportunities for employees.
“The right mentors will help an individual understand that their workplace already has diverse talent, especially for those in underrepresented groups, such as women,” he explained.
Pairing women with female leaders make them feel understood as they face the same challenges and having a strong mentorship program also allows leaders to communicate opportunities for professional growth.
Engaging in all these initiatives, Hayer noted, fosters a diverse culture where employees feel supported, valued, and more willing to offer feedback about how to improve a company’s approach to DEI.
“Having that open door policy prevents negativity that can be built up and improves interpersonal work-relationships,” he said.
Armour has started involving employees in the hiring process, so it is transparent that talent is being recruited based on merit. Hayer said DEI truly starts from the recruitment process. If job postings are offered in different languages and use correct pronouns it will be easier to recruit diverse talent.
“There’s no bias or preference given to anyone, it’s very impartial,” he added.
If DEI is seen as a priority from the hiring process, a level of trust is carried up the ladder and talent is kept within the industry for the long run.
“A successful business is made by the confidence a team has in the organization, and leaders have to do more than say DEI is important to them, they have to walk to walk,” Hayer emphasized.
“Everyone has to be very thoughtful about how job opportunities are presented and use inclusive language. We’re going to continue implementing a combination of all these strategies in the future.”
There’s a unique way you connect with people and convey that DEI is important, and it will take a deliberate, empathetic approach to make the necessary changes within the Canadian insurance industry.
“There has been a shift after Black Lives Matter and companies are working to have more people of colour represented in the industry but there are still challenges to be faced,” Hayer continued. “There is discrimination, and we need to stop ignoring that. It’s less about talking about DEI initiatives and actually doing the work on a larger scale.”