In order for the insurance industry to progress, it must expand upon its rather conservative image to showcase the breadth of opportunities and the diversity of folk who drive this profession forward, one executive has suggested.
“We need to challenge the narrative of the industry,” said Grace Grant (pictured), executive director of Gamma Iota Sigma, a collegiate fraternity that spans over 100 chapters and a network of over 5,000 students across North America. Its main goal is to promote and sustain student interest in careers in insurance, risk management, and actuarial science.
“There is more to insurance than its traditional and outdated image of being a boring industry that is male dominated,” she said.
During an interview with Insurance Business at RIMS in Atlanta, Grant spoke about how insurance needs to be viewed as a viable career path rather than an incidental professional recourse, while also revealing how shifting values in the younger generation will change the industry.
In various conversations at RIMS with individuals from across the professional spectrum, a common revelation during introductory “ice breakers” was that securing a prominent and ultimately fulfilling position in the industry was not an intentional goal during collegiate life.
“That is a common talking point we want to eliminate,” Grant said. “This should be a first career choice, rather than an area that one enters with curiosity and a little bit of hesitation.”
The diversity of thought, skill and opportunity the industry affords should be the main topic of discussion to sustain interest within collegiate and high school level students who are figuring out their career projections.
“There’s so many different specialties and niches to explore,” Grant said.
“One can even turn a hobby of theirs, be it an interest in fine arts or professional sports and find a position that professionally deals with those areas of interest.”
As Gen Z students approach the end of their undergraduate careers, they enter the job force with a unique perspective on finding a vocational purpose and a zest for interpersonal interaction.
“These students were really affected by the pandemic era shutdowns during very formative years in their development,” Grant said.
A lot of these burgeoning professionals have experienced Zoom fatigue and are yearning to delve headfirst into a career that prioritizes nuanced discourse and human connectivity in person.
“For a while, campus life was essentially non-existent, so the ability to move out from behind a computer and build relationships, be it with coworkers or clients, is very important to them,” Grant said.
Aside from seeking out opportunities to build personal connections in a physical setting, next generation talent is also altruistically minded.
“The various forms of civil unrest of the past couple of years has definitely had an impact on what the current crop of students finds important,” Grant said.
Actionable efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as a commitment to sustainable business practices to reverse the worrying course of climate change, are non-negotiables.
“Gen Z talent are drawn to businesses who uphold and promote values that reflect a greater effort to create an equitable future and push society and the environment in the right direction,” Grant said.
The more flexible work options that have been ushered in because of the pandemic will have staying power with Gen Z professionals entering into the industry.
“Work/life balance is critical for the next generation,” Grant said.
Work, family, and social stressors have culminated in a greater emphasis on aiding and bolstering mental health, and having an environment that allows for more flexible arrangements has proven to be a great combatant of burnout.
“This can be misrepresented as the younger talent wanting to be all virtual and completely abolish in-person learning and connections, but that is far from the truth,” Grant said.
“Instead, creating a culture that allows for more choice in how to do business is seen as advantageous, especially for a group of individuals who have become accustomed to more remote settings. It’s all about creating a balance that invigorates the mind.”