On the Importance of Diversity in Insurance

It is impossible to leave behind aspects of yourself. We bring our own assumptions, biases, and values to life and work, and these perspectives color our approach to the world in subtle ways. In celebrating diversity, we can better gauge the limits of our own understanding, as we are unfortunately often opaque to ourselves. Sometimes the only way to know where the limits of your own cultural understanding end is to breach them.

Unfortunately, many intersectional identities often feel caught in the cracks between their identities. People of color can often also be disabled, LGBT+, or in another category that adds complexity to their experiences. Can you chip away at the mosaic that is a person and still call it whole?

Too often, the scope of diversity is also found lacking because it leaves out other aspects of diversity. When was the last time a diversity event talked about accessibility for people who are hard of hearing? Or the simple communication principle of avoiding slang when talking to a diverse audience?

Piecemeal acceptance is not acceptance at all, but rather, tolerance, and begrudgingly given at that. True diversity is acceptance (and celebration!) of the multiple facets of a person’s identity, each of which catch the light at different moments in our daily life. Can you say you love your neighbor wholly if you wished they would hide part of their life to accommodate your comfort?

As a bisexual, Chinese man with queer and disabled friends, I care about diversity because I often see the world leave me and my friends behind. Assimilation, whether it is through code-switching or masking behaviors, creates a level of self-monitoring that makes the body an object of pain; the person is betrayed by parts of themselves they can’t control.

In the world of insurance, which underpins many of the operations of society, we owe it to ourselves and, more importantly, we owe it to each other to observe these often unobserved ideologies. If we do not consider the complexity encompassed by diversity, we will perpetuate existing systems without conscious considerations such as ratemaking differences, which can gatekeep the health of entire categories of people, whether it is by race or sexuality. In addition, insurance rates for businesses can even encourage the types of commerce available in an area, which can shape the direction of a community.

In order to have diversity of perspectives, we must have representational diversity and equitable treatment upon diverse lines; there is not one without the other. The seed we plant by including multiple perspectives will grow into a tree whose broad canopy will cover the gaps that singular perspectives can not grasp. It is plain that diverse businesses do well by any measurable metric, and it is because they invite and uplift different perspectives that makes them more resilient and prepared. Diversity revitalizes stagnant perspectives and brings fresh eyes to old ways of working.

It is pitifully easy to disregard a person for lack of understanding, whether it is of their beliefs or other aspects of their identity. While I may not agree with every person I meet, I believe that the conviction of their beliefs rivals my own. I firmly believe against talking about people, but rather talking to them; to see them for who they say they are, not for who I think they are.

While I may not know the reality of living as every identity, I hope my understanding of people’s diversity can spark a feeling of recognition and being seen that brings them comfort.

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