Diversity 'really does make us better organizations'

Head on why companies need to be more active in promoting talent

Diversity 'really does make us better organizations'

Diversity & Inclusion

By Lyle Adriano

The fight against insurance fraud and crime in Canada has always been a difficult one. Historically speaking, such illicit activity surges during periods of economic hardship and natural disaster – so it was no surprise when the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in deceptive schemes involving fake auto claims, cyber scams, and telemedicine cons, among others.

It was during this dark period that the industry banded together to launch a counterattack against insurance fraud and crime, in the form of the non-profit Équité Association.

Officially launched in 2021, Équité represents the insurance industry’s unified front against insurance fraud and exploitation. The group combines the functions of the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Investigative Services Division (ISD) with the cross-insurer data analytics firm CANATICS.

In its first year, Équité reported that it helped deliver member value of $89.7 million across its main service areas. The group also helped recover more than 1,000 stolen vehicles valued at more than $40 million from the Port of Montreal, in partnership with the Service de police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

What makes this even more impressive is that Équité is led by one of the most influential women in insurance – Terri O’Brien. A former chief risk officer at Interac Corp who now leads the industry’s foremost anti-fraud initiative, O’Brien was named an Insurance Business Canada’s Elite Woman for 2022.

Apart from Équité’s impressive anti-fraud accomplishments for its first year, the organization also managed to achieve 50/50 gender representation in both its board of directors and senior leadership team. O’Brien pushed for this diversity, as she believes that this makes organizations stronger.

“The landscape is changing – we need to do our part to mentor and promote not only women, but talented people of all diversity and cultures, particularly in Canada, where we are so multicultural,” the chief executive said. “And I do believe that diversity of thought around the table, the different experiences that our leaders bring to those conversations, really does make us better organizations and delivers better business results.”

O’Brien added that companies need to be more conscious about who they hire, how they promote, and how aware their senior leaders are about their purpose-driven strategies to bolster diversity.

“More than 60% of property and casualty (P&C) insurance professionals are women, and yet less than half of the leadership roles are filled with them. With the current ‘War on Talent’ hiring and retention challenges across Canada, I believe a key cultural differentiator and solution can be to actively promote diverse leaders to their highest potential,” she said. “By fostering a more inclusive environment – promoting female and diverse talent, and coaching new leaders to their highest potential – we can both retain and attract our best people to the insurance industry in Canada.”   

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