If ever there was a need to convince brokers that a diverse and inclusive workplace is a good thing, mission accomplished. In the 2023 Canadian Underwriter Diversity and Inclusion survey, sponsored by Sovereign Insurance, respondents nearly universally agree (95%) working in a diverse and inclusive environment has advantages.
What are the top benefits? Brokers say D&I creates a positive workplace culture (58%), provides more diverse perspectives (52%), and helps them better understand clients and others they serve (47%). On the flip side, the top two threats faced by not addressing diversity are people-related: losing good employees (46%) and losing access to the best talent (42%).
The findings come at a time when attracting and retaining employees is a top concern for brokerage firms. The aging workforce, skills gap and difficulty attracting the next generation of workers all contribute to labour woes in the insurance sector overall.1 The question is: Can D&I help brokers win the talent race?
It stands to reason that people want to work in environments with diversity of thought, that value employees’ differences, and that support individual cultures and needs – all benefits of seeking employers with diverse workforces.2
Research shows D&I is particularly important to younger jobseekers, with 83% of Gen Z candidates saying a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer. Younger workers are also more likely to define diversity as a mix of experiences, ideas and opinions, rather than the traditional definition of underrepresented racial, ethnic and gender demographics.3
With today’s fierce competition for talent, companies can gain an edge by tapping talent pools they may not have considered before. This helps in two ways: a broader search pool means there are more candidates to choose from and it will naturally help companies become more diverse.4
The Canadian Underwriter Diversity and Inclusion survey suggests brokers are indeed casting the net widely, with 71% of brokers saying they have used methods to encourage diverse applicants. The top cited methods are advertising through diverse channels and job boards (27%), highlighting diversity on their careers site (26%), and ensuring the hiring/interview panel is diverse (25%).
See: 4 ways to drive diversity in recruitment
When it comes to retention, while losing good employees was named as the top threat of not addressing diversity, brokerages seem to be focused elsewhere. Nearly universally, 93% of brokerages are attempting to retain talent, with the top cited methods being flexible scheduling 60%, celebrating anniversaries and milestones (57%), and investing in training 55%). (Diversity and inclusion were not listed as a choice on this question.) But when asked what would keep them at their current employer, just over one quarter (27%) of respondents said a diverse and inclusive environment, with the top reason being a raise or bonus (64%).
That’s not to say D&I isn’t an important retention tool. Many experts agree employees who feel valued for their individuality and unique contributions are more likely to stay on for longer.5 The 2022 Wellbeing and Voluntary Benefits Survey by HR consultancy Buck found there is a direct correlation between employees and their likelihood to want to leave the organization if they think diversity in cultures and backgrounds are not respected; their company is not committed to diversity, equity and inclusion; or their company does not provide diverse offerings for a diverse workforce. But again, the younger the employee, the more likely they are to be interested in DE&I.6
In a 2020 survey by ADP Canada, nearly half (47%) of employed Canadians 18 to 34 said they would be more loyal to their organization if they took a public stand on diversity and inclusion – twice the response rate than that of the general working population (25%).7
Another key to employee loyalty is having diversity in the senior ranks, according to The Canadian Underwriter D&I survey. Brokers working in an organization without diversity in senior leadership are three times more likely to be actively looking for another job (27% versus 10%).
While diversity and inclusion may not be the most powerful tool in the talent toolbox, it plays an important part in attracting and retaining employees. Regardless of age, few would argue against the case for having a diverse employee base and making everyone feel welcome and valued. As the pressure intensifies to fill roles and keep employees happy, instilling D&I in the workplace just makes good business sense – and human sense.
To learn more about Sovereign’s diversity and inclusion journey, visit www.sovereigninsurance.ca/diversityinclusionjourney.
1 Deloitte, “Insurance Under The Spotlight”
2 Monster, “4 reasons to seek out employers with diverse workforces”
3 Monster, “What workforce diversity means for Gen Z”
4 Cadient, “Diversity in the Workplace: Attracting Top Talent”
5 CHRON, “How Does Diversity Impact Employee Retention?”
6 Buck, “DE&I critical to talent retention, especially among younger employees, according to Buck HR survey,” June 2, 2022
7 ADP Canada/Newswire, “New ADP Survey Shows Canadians Believe Workplaces Have Work to Do on Diversity and Inclusion,” Nov. 25, 2020