Prioritizing woman- and minority-owned businesses is easier said than done. It starts from the internal structure of a company and works its way out to clients, which is what industry leaders have been striving towards.
Lisa-Ann Marchesi (pictured), CEO and founding partner of Marchesi Risk Partners, has built her career with diversity always top of mind.
“I recently starting my consulting firm in late summer of 2021, as I felt it was important to create a business model that was specialized in the area of women, minorities and those with disabilities in construction,” said Marchesi.
With 30 years of experience in the corporate world, Marchesi has always been an outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion. “It is a predominantly male dominated industry, and coupled with construction, I felt it was time to set my own table instead of waiting to be asked to sit at one,” she said.
The CEO aimed to elevate women in the industry and she succeeded, creating a global network of women in the construction and real estate space.
From attorneys who specialize in construction and contract agreements, to women in the compliance area, Marchesi provides her team with opportunities to stand out and help each other meet their professional goals.
“I don’t think there’s anything more important than a true professional sisterhood,” she emphasized.
Providing equal opportunities for everyone based on merit, regardless of race or gender helps make a successful company culture that clients trust.
“I am well-versed in the industry and know there needs to be more diversity at the table. In order to do so, [you’ve got to take] risks,” Marchesi explained. “I started my own business to help other women not just on the professional side, but also to mentor and work with women and minorities to make themselves known.”
To have a well-rounded business conversation, a company needs a diverse set of professionals that are open minded, feel supported and willing to share their input. With inspiring leadership that fosters diversity, more women and minorities can branch out and reach their professional goals.
Marchesi mentioned the ongoing importance of building courage and confidence within her team, as insurance is a people business, and it should start internally.
When it comes to maintaining relationships with clients and partners, she said that honesty and transparency goes a long way.
According to Marchesi, women in construction need to be more respected.
“Everyone working on a job site should be treated equally, and that’s something (minority and women owned business entities (MWBE) contractors are struggling with,” she added.
MWBE businesses are usually smaller in nature and don’t always have the necessary risk management resources, which is where firms such as Marchesi Risk Partners steps in to consult and help them navigate through the risk management aspect of their operations.
“Smaller MWBE businesses who don’t have a risk manager struggle trying to get on a job site, and risk management is a big part of their strain,” she explained. “Our approach is to be the ones they can outsource to, help guide them through insurance reviews, subcontract agreements or claims activity.”
MWBE contractors that partner with the right risk managers will have an advocate when a claim occurs, and at the time of renewals, they will have someone in their corner to dispute in the case of a premium increase.
“For brokers wanting to get into this space, they should be completely transparent and understand the client’s business model,” said Marchesi. “The number one thing to ask is: where do you want to go?
“Sit back, listen to what their goals are and work together to draw a road map of how to reach their goals. I’ve partnered with clients, where they were very small, and grew up to be very large contractors. It’s a process but if you take your time and take a holistic approach, everyone wins.”