Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Driving Change in the Insurance Industry

CEO and president Rekha Skantharaja recognized for diversity & inclusion efforts

The year 2020 has been characterized by dramatic socio-economic upheavals. The coronavirus pandemic is only one of the factors that have affected the way business is conducted; racial injustices and pervasive inequality have received focused media and social attention in the United States and beyond. Many businesses are using these factors to reevaluate their initiatives in diversity and inclusion, including the insurance industry, which has been struggling with racial and gender diversity within its ranks.

To help bolster those insurance firms who are spearheading the charge for inclusion and diversity in the industry, Insurance Business America recently announced a survey entitled “Leading the Change.” The survey allows insurance industry professionals to nominate themselves or others who identify as people of color and who are driving industry growth and inclusion. Nominees must be an integral part of the insurance industry, either through direct work or through advocacy or interaction. Those nominated must also identify as a person of color, which includes Black, Asian, Hispanic and/or Latinx, or Indigenous individuals.

Rekha Skantharaja, President and CEO of Tangram Insurance Services in Petaluma, California, applauds this recognition of diversity and inclusion in the insurance sector. As a panelist for the “Leading the Change” survey, Skantharaja stated, “There is a collective consciousness that is bigger and more acute than I’ve ever seen around issues of diversity, equality, and inclusion.” It is what steps insurance companies take in the coming months that will help solidify diversity initiatives and drive change. Some of these steps include recruiting people of color and those from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds into leadership roles within the industry. Skantharaja noted, “When you recruit into leadership positions, those are influential positions that can then start to make meaningful changes happen, which will then trickle down and open the door for more changes at lower levels.”

The survey and similar diversity and inclusion programs within the insurance sector are only a start, and industry insiders are clear in their understanding that far more work needs to be done to provide opportunities for under-represented demographic populations in the insurance field. “The time for talk and grand gestures is probably over – people want to see meaningful progress,” added Skantharaja.

In early August, Skantharaja was also featured in UK’s Insurance Business Mag, speaking about the insurance industry’s need for inclusion.