Be an ally to foster a workplace culture of belonging

Chief Diversity Officer Ronald Reeves shares how AIG is creating a more diverse workplace.

AIG’s top leaders recently joined other global insurance industry leaders at the Dive In Festival to raise awareness for more diverse and inclusive workplaces. Through a combination of virtual and in-person events spread across three days, speakers provided practical ideas and insights to help leaders recruit, retain, and develop diverse talent.

AIG Chief Diversity Officer Ronald Reeves said the company has taken meaningful actions to help create a workplace where colleagues represent the clients and communities they serve. This comes as studies show diverse teams are more likely to generate better business outcomes. Also, some regulators – such as in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe – have called on organizations to increase transparency into the diversity of their corporate boards and overall workforce.

“AIG has been transparent,” Ronald said. “We are on a journey, and we continue to make strides to advance our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals.”

For example, each member of AIG’s executive leadership team has a DEI objective embedded in their individual performance goals tied to their annual short-term incentive awards.

To deepen commitments to workplace diversity, creating a culture of belonging is key, said Ronald, along with other AIG leaders at Dive In. And here are some of their key takeaways:

  • Go beyond mentoring top talent. It often takes more than hard work alone to get noticed and promoted, which is why senior leaders play such a critical role in DEI. Elizabeth Meyers, Managing Attorney – AIG Staff Counsel, moderated a panel with some key points on the importance of a sponsorship: What gets high performers a seat at the table are their accomplishments coupled with a sponsor. This would be an influential leader willing to use their seniority and political capital to help colleagues advance by advocating for them and introducing them to more senior leaders to help them build their network and gain visibility – sponsoring is different than mentoring. While both are important, a sponsor can really accelerate career growth.

  • Create a safe space for honest conversations. Being seen and heard is important for colleagues to feel valued and supported for the differences they bring to their organization: “If colleagues know they can talk about their different abilities, for example, without fear or assumptions or it hurting their career, they will be more willing to ask for support when they need it,” said Lauriel O’Neill, AIG Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the UK and EMEA.
  • Speak up. An inclusive workplace involves having strong allies willing to support their colleagues, especially during difficult moments: “It’s about speaking up about the prejudices, biases and assumptions you see,” said Elisabeth Hellemose, AIG General Manager based in Norway, who is also a member of AIG’s global Executive Diversity Council. “In a corporate context, this means putting action behind words and building strategies to drive change.”

As many Dive In speakers underscored, insurance industry leaders have more work to do to increase diversity across all ranks. This will require organizations to take further actions, but tangible measures can’t happen without thoughtful conversations such as those supported at Dive In. 

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