Bennie Jones, Risk Management Solutions of America

Bennie Jones, Risk Management Solutions of America

President and CEO
Years in the industry:

Bennie Jones has been in the insurance industry for almost four decades. Throughout his career, he says he’s noticed that hiring practices present a major barrier to entry into the industry for people of color. “When you look at a new candidate, are you looking only at the skills they have today or where they can go in the company?” he says. “Insurance is a business of relationships, and if you do not see building a relationship because of conscious or unconscious biases, how do you welcome the person of color?”

Jones actively works to help bridge the racial gaps apparent in the industry. He serves on the executive committee of the Independent Agents (IIA) of Illinois, chairs the Diversity Council for IIABA, is a member of NAAIA and is active with other committee groups. “My motivation is to be a part of the solution, not just complain about the problem,” he says.

One of the goals of IIA of Illinois is to grow its Right Start mentorship program, which pairs minority agencies with larger non-minority ones that can assist with developing needed processes. The same program is being implemented nationally through IIABA.

“I have seen a shift in the attitude of leadership in the industry over the past five years,” Jones says. “We are admitting we have a problem. In the past, we put it on the industry at large; now, individuals are taking ownership for their part and acknowledging the existence of privilege. We have gone from just talking about the problem to actionable steps for improvement.”