Rodney Johnson, Gallagher
Divisional vice president of culture and inclusion
Years in the industry: 20
In 2017, after witnessing years of slow progress on the D&I front within his company, Rodney Johnson felt compelled to take a more active role in shaping the fabric of the insurance workforce. Together with his team, Johnson created Gallagher Connect Partners, an inclusive network of minorities, women and other diverse insurance professionals dedicated to supporting the growth of minority- and women-owned insurance enterprises and attracting more diverse talent to the industry.Since founding the network, Johnson and his team have formed partnerships with the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, NAAIA, the LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Business Insurance Diversity & Inclusion Institute.
“Insurance is lagging in diversity and inclusion, and many of the barriers to entry have to do with lack of diversity within the executive and mid-level leadership roles,” Johnson says. “When those leadership roles are not diverse, we often see conscious and unconscious bias factored into the hiring decision. This bottlenecks the pipeline for diverse talent, who may look different but can exceed the qualifications of and outperform in a particular role.
“To improve in this area, we must first help leaders and employees understand that bringing in diverse talent is not about philanthropy; it is about being more client-centric, bringing more innovation to the table and delivering better outcomes for clients. Executives need to be bold and hold their leaders accountable for making sure hiring slates are including diverse talent enterprise-wide, both in leadership roles and entry-level positions.”