Jump to winners | Jump to methodology
Building for everyone
Through their rigorous commitment to providing equal-opportunity policies, the winners have shown that their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) programs are more than corporate buzzwords.
The featured 2024 winners have demonstrated a commitment to promoting:
“Our ERGs have allowed us to really create a sense of community. Our employees are coming to [them] organically and building [them] in a manner that is by them and for them in a way that, I think, long term will help us retain employees”
Lilian Vanvieldt-GrayAlliant Insurance Services
Previous winner Athena Actuarial Accounting underlines what it takes to create programs with high levels of employee satisfaction. The firm’s manager Paula Villafane says, “Diversity, equity and inclusion don’t happen by accident or all at once. True commitment to these principles is demonstrated by a series of small decisions made over time.”
Next-gen education is key to the best diversity and inclusion programs
By launching their double-pronged Fellows and Scholars program last year, Alliant Insurance is providing underrepresented students with opportunities to explore careers in insurance. The fund, which won the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative of the Year at the Business Insurance 2023 Awards, supports two demographics:
Fellows – undergraduates who participate in internship programs while receiving a competitive wage and living expenses
Scholars – postgraduates who complete specialized insurance certifications with fully covered tuition
An additional and equally bold diversity initiative Alliant has focused on is accelerating the growth of Black professionals in the industry. The firm has established partnerships with:
To date, the Alliant Insurance Foundation has raised over $3 million in support of its DE&I efforts.
“We’re pushing to have at least 12 fellows coming through our rotations in any one year, and our goal is to have 60 students going through the school of insurance at Southern University at any given time,” shares Lilian Vanvieldt-Gray, executive VP and chief DE&I officer.
USI Insurance Services is also executing its own impressive efforts to boost diversity. Established in 2021, the organization’s Career Track program develops young talent in the insurance industry.
“We have a Career Track team whose sole purpose is to focus on Gen Z,” says Katone Roberts, national diversity and inclusion manager. “Our recruiters went through a diversity sourcing course, where we had them practice ways of searching outside the industry to find more diverse talent.”
Since its inception, the program has aimed to increase new talent with 335 early-career professionals onboarded over the last year alone. As a DE&I manager, Roberts is responsible for ensuring diversity among the program members.
“When we looked at the numbers of the insurance industry, we saw that in terms of people of color, it’s about 30 percent to 35 percent,” he says. “Trying to keep our [Career Track] group as close to the industry standard or higher is the goal.”
Despite the growth of Career Track, VP of employee engagement Ann Moore reveals that generating interest in insurance is still a challenge.
“At college campuses, you still don’t have a lot of people running out of the classroom saying, ‘I want to work in insurance.’ And that’s something we’re trying to push against.”
“A lot of people compare themselves to other organizations. They’ll want to do everything that another organization is doing versus thinking about what is best for their own population. Being intentional about our efforts is one way I think we’re standing out”
Katone RobertsUSI Insurance Services
Representing diverse voices
Some DE&I metrics speak louder than words. In just over two years, USI Insurance Services has onboarded three Black executives.
“I can’t say that at any of the places where my friends are working it’s happened at that speed,” reflects Roberts. “[Executive roles] don’t open up every day. Getting ready for diverse talent to come in and fill those seats and feel like they’re supported by the HR team is really critical.”
One of the ways Alliant aims to diversify its leadership pipeline is through its partnership with the Magnolia Leadership Program for Black Women, which provides career acceleration for those who otherwise might not have access.
Alliant also champions equal opportunity through its Sponsorship Allocation Program, kickstarted in 2022. The strategy has created over 200 opportunities for underrepresented individuals since its inception, including access to mentorship and networking events.
“It should not be lost on anyone that the insurance industry is white male dominated; it’s been closed off to a lot of people for a very long time,” adds Vanvieldt-Gray.
For USI, creating intentional strategies means focusing primarily on those who are most marginalized.
“Black women are the lowest-paid individuals in the corporate space. If you can find a way to make a space better for a Black woman, the positive impact is only going to trickle up to everybody else,” explains Roberts, who adds that the organization plans to expand its existing U-Network strategy to include the Black community.
Developed as a part of the firm’s “I’m With U” DE&I program, the peer-to-peer learning network connects employees with those in their organization who share common interests, learning objectives, and backgrounds.
Since its launch in 2020, USI has seen:
While the firm’s diversity and inclusion program is among the best in the industry, there’s still progress to be made across the sector.
“It’d be nice to be able to get to a place someday where I’m not the only woman and the only person of color [sitting at an executive level],” says Vanvieldt-Gray. “I hope in 20 years that’s not the case. I hope that women are in all echelons and I hope that people of color are represented and given opportunities.”
“We have been very intentional about paying attention to which people continuously get opportunities for career growth and ensure that underrepresented professionals who are often missed are also getting those same types of development opportunities”
Aaisha HamidAlliant Insurance Services
To attract and retain the best talent, 5-Star winners such as Alliant and USI are creating top diversity and inclusion programs via online employee resource groups (ERGs) for employees from all walks of life to be seen and heard.
“For 2023, our focus has been our Women in Sales ERG, but USI is expanding to other identity groups in 2024,” reveals Roberts.
Alliant also excels in managing its ERGs, which include:
ARMS (Awareness, Resources, Mentorship and Support for those impacted by cancer)
Mosaic at Alliant (Black professionals)
AAPI (Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders)
Veterans at Alliant
Latinos at Alliant
Women at Alliant
According to Aaisha Hamid, assistant vice president and DE&I manager, the subgroup for working mothers in the workplace is one of the largest ERGs.
“We have a flex policy that supports women within the workplace, and we have a partnership with Elevate, the largest online community of professional women across industries,” she adds. “Our work with them provides our women with a safe space to discuss different kinds of gender-specific issues in the workplace.”
As a result of Alliant’s diversity strategy, which covers areas including community investment, accountability, and representation, the company’s senior management has reached 31 percent diversity of its members (including women, and racial and ethnic minorities).
Implementing DE&I programs not only cultivates meaningful allyship but also enhances global competitiveness by attracting diverse talent and expanding client outreach.
“The [younger] generation that’s coming is really looking and demanding representation from the people that are servicing them in different types of avenues, including insurance,” says Hamid. “If we don’t change, and if we don’t do something different, we’re not going to be able to withstand the future.”
- AmTrust Financial Services
- Athena Actuarial Consulting
- CNA Insurance
- CSAA Insurance Group
- Duck Creek Technologies
- HUB International
- Kevin Davis Insurance Services, an Amwins company
- Selective Insurance