The notion of diversity, equity and inclusion — or DE&I as it has been branded by corporate culture — is more than just a marketing and P&R talking point; it can positively affect a business structure by adding value both internally and externally. While it may be a rigorous task to take on, its rewards reflect a societal push to uplift marginalised individuals and create an equitable work environment that promotes prosperity.
Insurance Business spoke with Katy Rodríguez Botello (pictured), the senior manager of social impact, global, at Marsh, to gain some insight into how DE&I can support and provide benefits to businesses, how to attract women into a male-dominated industry and the parts of her career she is most proud of.
Botello believes that investing internal resources into diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives can have an extensive effect on business operations at a micro and macro level.
“I think our industry will be committed to this endeavour, not just because of social justice movements, but because it’s the right thing to do and there’s a business case for diversity and inclusion,” Botello said. “I strongly believe more equitable teams create extra value for clients and businesses alike.”
While establishing and sustaining an inclusive work culture that benefits a business and its employees may at times be arduous, she said, “it has proved to be a worthwhile endeavour.
“Here at Marsh, we seek to create that environment,” Botello said. “And obviously, it's not perfect, and we are not seeking for perfection. We know we will get it wrong sometimes, but what we want is to make people feel that they shouldn't be scared to get it wrong.”
For Botello, DE&I is “all about learning and being brave.”
“Marsh and McLennan has been around for 150 years, but it is our responsibility to shape progress for the next century,” Botello said.
The insurance realm has been a historically male-dominated space that can be intimidating to break into, especially for women. The lack of female professionals in all areas of a company, especially executive-level positions, can deter prospective talent who may not envision upward mobility.
“We must focus on representation at the senior level to make sure that you are effecting change from the top down,” Botello said. “We must also provide training to colleagues so that they can better understand what their biases are to really build equity and inclusion into processes like recruitment and promotion.”
There is also the question of how to make working for an insurance company seem appealing to women and ultimately attract them into the field.
“We are certainly up against stiff competition from other professions that seem more appealing, whether that is teaching or engineering or economics,” Botello said. “You never really hear about a young woman aspiring to be an insurance professional at a young age, and that is something we really need to address to create meaningful change.”
Outreach programs are one option to showcase how a career in this field can be rewarding and stimulating with real opportunities for growth. It is also imperative that in an age of career swapping due to COVID and more favourable remote work positions, a company really needs to impart a sense of value in its employees who could potentially be looking elsewhere.
“I think it is fascinating to explore this topic in-depth to find meaningful solutions,” Botello said.
Botello has felt a calling to use her position as a DE&I specialist to create substantial change and opportunities for individuals who may feel neglected by professional industries. While systemic issues abound for various BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals, as well as women, Botello is ultimately proud of her involvement in helping to address and rectify these longstanding injustices in any way she can.
Throughout her time at Marsh, Botello is most proud of her involvement in its ‘Leading the Change’ initiative. Created in 2020, the company pledged $5 million over three years to support select organisations that advocate for greater equality for the Black community and double the impact for colleagues who donate to racial justice organisations through a double matching program.
“We also established concrete actions to advance racial justice including establishing a global black colleague network and a race advisory council,” she said.
One of the organisations that they supported was Gideon’s Promise, which is committed to transforming the criminal justice system by building a movement of public defenders who provide equal justice for marginalised communities.
“The funding that we are providing is used to support a program called PIPED, which stands for Public Interest Professionals Expanding Diversity,” Botello said. “It was designed to help build stronger relationships between the legal system and marginalised communities while also giving scholarships to public defenders.”
“This is one of the main challenges of the American criminal justice [system],” she added. “There's a lot of work and not many well-trained public defenders. So we're trying to fix that through this partnership.”
The company has also supported the Better Chance initiative, which connects connect middle and high school students to opportunities that help them gain placement in competitive educational institutions.
“The funding that we are providing will directly help over 2000 students a year, establishing vital career platforms while connecting them to employers that are seeking more diverse talent and looking to promote equity in our communities,” Botello said. “I think supporting our communities throughout life’s various challenges is more important than ever, which will then foster responsible business structures to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion is available for all.”