Canadian Underwriter

Not addressing diversity issues creates risk for brokers, survey finds

April 14, 2022   by Phil Porado

Multiracial workplace celebration.

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Nearly all Canadian brokers agree addressing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) issues is linked to business success, according to a late 2021 Canadian Underwriter online survey of 208 brokers across Canada, made possible with the support of Sovereign Insurance.

It found 91% agree brokers see DEI practices as important.

Organizations with no diversity within their senior leadership, however, were less likely to take that view. And 19% of firms in that category believed they could be successful without addressing diversity. Noted one respondent with 20 years in the business: “We hire based on best qualified. See no risk in that.”

But the 91% of brokers who said failure to address diversity harms business outcomes cited several concerns:

  • Losing good employees – 47%
  • Losing access to the best new talent – 46%
  • Reputational risk and image management – 32%
  • Risk of homogeneity or group think – 30%
  • Losing clients or customers – 28%
  • Falling behind the competition – 21%
  • Risk of overconfidence or loss of creativity – 17%

More than three quarters (77%) of brokers said their firms provide some level of encouragement for diverse applicants. Again, the number is higher (97%) for firms with diverse leadership.

The most frequently mentioned methods are highlighting diversity on the firm’s career site (27%) and within job descriptions (22%), and advertisement of open positions through diverse channels and job boards (23%).

What’s more, 21% of brokers said their firms strive to create diverse hiring and interview panels.

Eighty-four per cent of employees surveyed at most Canadian brokerages said their firms engage in practices aimed at encouraging diverse talent, including:

  • Flexible work hours and days, and working from home – 51%
  • Celebrating anniversaries and milestones – 47%
  • Onboarding processes designed to make new employees feel welcome and valued – 45%
  • Investing in training – 38%
  • Leadership promotions from within – 32%
  • Regular check-ins with leadership and supervisors – 29%
  • Competitive compensation that keeps pace with other offers – 29%
  • Exit interviews to understand why people leave – 25%
  • Compensation reviews to ensure pay equity – 24%
  • Toxic hires are terminated, regardless of level or other value to the organization – 20%.

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