IIABA Creates Diversity Task Force

May 22, 2002

Seeking to build on the successful foundation laid by its Multicultural Agents Forum series, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) has established a Diversity Task Force, charging it with “fostering a profitable independent agency force that reflects, represents and capitalizes on the opportunities of the diverse U.S. population.”

This cooperative industry group is comprised of IIABA agents, members of groups representing Latin-American and African-American agents, and seven leading insurance companies—CNA, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, Encompass Insurance, MetLife Auto & Home, Prudential Property & Casualty, Safeco Insurance Company and Travelers Insurance.

IIABA’s Multicultural Forms, conducted in 1999 and 2000, helped to create awareness of urban market opportunities among insurers and raise the profile of minority-owned independent agencies operating in the nation’s cities.

“The Diversity Task Force is responsible for taking the emerging-markets focus of the Multicultural Forum to the next level of accomplishment by working collaboratively and implementing a strategic plan that will be beneficial to minority and urban agents as well as agency-system companies,” says Joe A. Hernandez Jr., chairman of the group. “We are undertaking this effort not solely for business reasons. We are engaged in this effort because it is the right thing to do.”

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2050 nearly half—47.2 percent-of the country’s population will be minorities. “This expected prominence in the marketplace makes emerging and diverse markets critical to the future success of the independent agency system,” continues Hernandez, vice president/principal of Hamman, Miller, Beauchamp, Debble, Inc., a Long Beach, Calif-based independent agency.

“IIABA, its colleagues from the National African-American Insurance Association (NAAIA) and the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies (LAAIA), and its company partners are committed to promoting diversity within the agent community and the company ranks and creating a strategic plan that will position urban and minority-owned agencies for company appointments and ultimate success, and insurance companies for greater business opportunities in emerging urban markets.”

Among the Task Force’s chief goals are to:

Increase the penetration of the independent agency system in urban insurance markets by increasing the number of diverse-agent appointments.

Foster the ability of diverse agents to grow their businesses successfully.

Change the insurance industry’s perception toward diverse insurance markets and to provide recommendations on writing this insurance on a sound business basis.

Work in coordination with other industry groups interested in multicultural insurance issues.

“As an industry, we have made considerable strides over the last couple years in diversifying the workforce and making our product offerings more readily available to individuals in urban markets,” says Hernandez. “But we must and can do better, and that is what the IIABA-led Diversity Task Force will be working to achieve through the action plan it is developing.”

To accomplish its goals, the task force will work to build strategic alliances with diverse organizations, build recognition of its efforts in the industry and the business community, garner support from additional industry sources, boost support of its efforts among IIABA state associations, develop a database of diverse agents and agencies, and create a pilot professional development program for diverse agents.

“Members of the task force will be taking a holistic approach to building support and momentum within the industry and in our communities for this diversity effort,” stresses Hernandez. “No stone will be left unturned and no ally will remain untapped in our drive to draft a plan that will make a real and substantial difference in bringing more diversity to the workforce and client list of the insurance industry.

“We are very excited about the opportunities for independent agents, their company partners and the industry as a whole that can be created through these cooperative efforts,” says Hernandez. “By focusing on this united undertaking we believe the industry can shape positive change that will bring rewards to all involved.”

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