Why insurance professionals 'should practice what we preach'

Jodie Kaufman-Davis on driving a company culture of philanthropy

Why insurance professionals 'should practice what we preach'

Non-Profits & Charities

By Gia Snape

Photo credit: Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation

The Midwest division of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) recently bestowed Jodie Kaufman Davis (pictured on the right), executive vice president at HW Kaufman Group, its prestigious Trailblazer Award for philanthropic excellence and industry leadership.

At its annual benefit in Chicago earlier this month, the IICF recognized Kaufman Davis for “championing company culture” and advancing inclusion initiatives across Kaufman’s global team.

For Kaufman Davis, insurance and philanthropy are inextricable concepts.

“Insurance is about protecting what matters most and helping those in need. It’s important that we live up to that standard,” Kaufman Davis told Insurance Business. “Since my grandfather started the company 55 years ago, we’ve always been powered by a commitment to investing in communities where we live and do business.

“My grandfather believed deeply that as the business grew, it was imperative for our associates at every level of the organization to be actively involved in philanthropy and for insurance professionals to practice what we preach.”

How HW Kaufman Group is engaging employees in giving back

The recognition from IICF comes as HW Kaufman Group is celebrating its 55th anniversary as an organization.

Throughout her time at her family’s organization, Kaufman Davis is most proud of helping establish its employee resource groups (ERGs), which empower Kaufman associates to engage in their communities and make connections within the organization.

“I built and was one of the executive sponsors of the Diversity Council, which supports the employee resource groups. It was definitely a special moment when it came to fruition,” she recalled.

The seven ERGs center on different communities, including veterans, families, LGBTQ+, Hispanic, African American, and Asian American groups.

Each group is given an annual stipend to fund philanthropic activities aligned with their values and goals while promoting inclusivity and cultural awareness among employees.

“It’s an expansion of our family values to make everyone feel welcome and able to bring their authentic self to work,” said Kaufman Davis. “It’s also another way to demonstrate our flexibility to engage our associates and make investments where it matters.”

This employee engagement is brought into focus in September when the organization marks a month of giving.

For Kaufman Davis, it’s essential not just to give back but to weave volunteer and giving opportunities into the fabric of their culture and show that “giving back is a critical part of being on the team.”

“We focus on giving back to organizations that help with food insecurity, for example,” she said. “We give volunteer time off, and our associates are always finding new opportunities [for philanthropy] and bringing them to the table.”

See LinkedIn post here.

The power of partnership – linking the insurance industry through philanthropy

Beyond her internal initiatives, Kaufman Davis is passionate about partnering with the broader insurance industry to give back and enrich communities. She highlighted IICF’s work to engage insurance organizations like HW Kaufman Group and leverage the industry’s significant resources for good.

“I’m proud to serve as the chair of the 30th-anniversary campaign; that’s another great opportunity to amplify our work,” she said. “Over the past 30 years, IICF has awarded more than $50 million in grants to local community organizations. It’s exciting to see the difference we can make in the community.”

According to Kaufman Davis, organizations like IICF create opportunities for volunteering and giving back and play a vital role in an industry that “doesn’t always have the best reputation.”  

“Sometimes people think negatively about insurance companies and the insurance industry in general,” she said. “But the insurance industry cares about the communities it works in, and the IICF demonstrates that.”

“Giving back is a true part of the insurance community’s ethos”

What advice does Kaufman Davis have for insurance organizations of any size that want to be more involved in charitable giving?

“Think of something that can make a difference and start small,” she said. “The IICF is a great starting point because they create an infrastructure [for outreach activities] and set up everything.

“There’s also the opportunity for individuals at all career stages to get involved in committees and participate on the various regional boards. It’s a great opportunity to network and do well with other industry professionals because you’ll be able to expand your horizons. I’ve met amazing insurance professionals over the past 10 years through the IICF.”

As for the future of HW Kaufman Group, Kaufman Davis’ vision is clear.

“Our commitment to giving back remains as strong today as ever,” she said. “Our plan is to continue supporting philanthropic, civic and community organizations that are making a positive difference.

“We feel that it’s our responsibility as an industry leader to be an example for our colleagues and show that giving back is a true part of the insurance community’s ethos.”

What is your organization’s approach to philanthropy and community giving? Tell us your story below.

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