If I told you that the insurance industry has the best history of supporting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the workplace, you’d probably laugh..and for good reason. For as long as I can remember, the white male executive has been the face of Insurance. To many people, “He” represents security, stability, & strength…exactly what you want from your insurance company. But not everybody sees “him” that way. People of color, for example may not see him that way. Women may not see him that way. LGBTQ people may not see him that way. And all of those people work, or could work in the insurance industry. And all of those people certainly need insurance.
As a Palestinian-American, raised in the 80s in Louisiana, I was taught to hide my Arab heritage because, in Louisiana, my Palestinian mother believed that if you said “Arab”, you might as well have said “Terrorist”. As a christian, I was taught that all men were created equal in God’s eyes, but when I looked around a segregated New Orleans, it certainly didn’t feel that way. Things felt wrong, but I didn’t chose to do anything about it. I’m sad that it took the combination of a pandemic and a murder to elevate our country’s awareness of social injustice, but I’m glad something did because it’s given me an opportunity and the motivation to do something about the injustice I’ve felt my whole life.
I used to think that unless I could make a big impact on something, it wasn’t worth doing. George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent public dialog about social injustice changed that. I learned that I don’t need to invest weeks or months or years of my time to make a big difference. In fact, the biggest difference I could make was to raise awareness by creating space for conversation.
I’m excited today to announce our upcoming series of The Enlightened Agent Podcast, focused entirely on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the insurance industry. Last year, during the pandemic and after George Floyd’s murder, social justice became an elevated topic across the country. Although I felt like Broker Buddha had always been a diverse, equal and inclusive workplace, we stepped up conversations in the company to be certain that everyone felt the same way. For me, personally, I started using my Zoom background to raise awareness for different causes every month…from Black History to Mental Health to Drunk Driving Awareness.
As the pandemic started to fade, though, internal focus on DE&I wained. Our internal DE&I champion was no longer with the company and we hadn’t figured out how to fully operationalize our efforts. I can’t say what specifically triggered the realization, but about 2 months ago, I started feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. I wanted to restart the conversation.
So what better place to talk about it, then on my podcast? I’m excited about the lineup of guests we have that includes industry executives with diverse backgrounds talking about their journeys. While the Insurance industry may not have the best history of focus on DE&I, executives today are investing heavily to fix that, and I’m excited to have some of them on my show talking about the change that’s happening
I’ve always known that change starts from within, so in my first episode I’ve invited executive advisor Charlene Wheeless to record a live coaching session, my first, focused on DE&I. Charlene helps companies and senior leaders navigate and solve their toughest business challenges and as a white male executive in the industry, Charlene helps me in this episode navigate through some of my most challenging questions as I work on improving Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Broker Buddha.
I hope you’ll listen to this episode and more as we speak Insurance executives to the way they handle diversity, equity, and inclusion in their lives and at their companies.