The insurance industry – long considered exclusive and non-diverse – is in flux, says Nichole Barnes Marshall, global head of inclusion at Aon.
While women – and other workplace minorities – have not always had a seat at the insurance table, Marshall says that’s finally changing. In fact, she says, right now is an exciting time to be a part of the industry.
“So the work that I’m doing, it’s not just at Aon, I know my counterparts and direct peers in brokerages, as well as all of our carriers … are making commitments to how they want to move the industry forward. This really, truly is an industry-wide effort,” she says.
“It’s going to take some time to change. This industry didn’t get to where it did overnight, so it’s not going to change overnight. But what I’m excited to see is how the industry is really convening and connecting and collaborating on this topic and really working together to move the industry forward.”
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Across the industry, at conferences and roundtables and inside most corporations, the wheels of inclusion are finally in motion. Insurance, which has been criticized for being too white and too male, is diversifying its employment practices.
“The good news is that, at no time have I seen the industry come together to really move things forward. I’ve seen individual efforts over the years, but now we [in the industry] are saying, collectively, this will truly be the rising tide that lifts all boats. That definitely gives me a sense of hope,” Marshall says.
“These are issues that every business is grappling with and I think this just requires everyone to roll up their sleeves and for no one to see themselves as a victim but to see themselves as humans and recognize that in our humanity we’ve made mistakes. And then, for this industry, we can say: here’s how we intend to move forward and try to equalize the playing field.
“As a woman and person of color that makes me feel good, knowing that there are opportunities for me and for my children – and for other women to now consider insurance as a viable career and industry that they may want to choose, because we’re putting so much emphasis on [diversity and inclusion].”
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