Last summer, when millions witnessed the agonizing 8 minutes and 46 seconds during which George Floyd pleaded for his life, people across the globe experienced an awakening to the racism that exists in today’s society. For some, there were no words. However, Assurant's Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Jerrell Moore, knew there was no better time to open up a meaningful dialogue at Assurant. One that was raw and honest and, especially, courageous.
In June 2020, he created a safe space for Black and African American colleagues to share personal reflections on the topic of racism, sparked by the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, among many other victims from our Black and African American communities. Thousands of colleagues across the world joined this special live session of what we call Courageous Conversations to hear opening remarks from Alan Colberg, Assurant's president and CEO and Jerrell Moore, followed by conversations with Assurant employees, Alecia Bailey, Yeneneh Dereje and Anthony Bothwell, each of whom shared their personal perspectives and experiences related to racism.
During Black History Month at Assurant, we’re revisiting that conversation to keep the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion front and center. As a company committed to its employees, it’s vital for us to continuously improve the way our diverse workforce relates and communications. As Colberg noted, it’s important to face issues like these head-on, listen and “get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Early in the discussion, Bothwell observed that “a lot of our challenges are that we don’t understand one another.” It’s important to engage with “an open heart and listening ears,” he said, because “this is not just a black issue — this is an American issue.” The intention of Courageous Conversations at Assurant is to do just that: open our hearts and minds so we might better understand and support each other.
“We must challenge ourselves to do better and do more, both as individuals and as Assurant,” Colberg continued.
Assurant Employee Reflections
“I think there are a lot of emotions right now,” Dereje said. “It can be difficult to see a balance but, you know, it can be clouded from ensuring the accountability piece is there.”
As the conversation continued, Bailey indicated the discrepancies she saw within her own career endeavors. "It is 2020 and I should not be the only or first doing some of the things that are basic.”
As a follow up to last year’s conversation, we asked the panelists to reflect on their experience as participants and on the meaning of Black History Month at this moment in history.
Here are their responses and insights:
Listening to One Another
We’ll continue to talk and listen to each other about racial justice on a regular basis, both in structured spaces like our Courageous Conversations series and among ourselves. As these conversations resume across the workplace for other races and genders, we remain rooted in our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe in the innovative and strategic value of these three principles and how they improve performance, create growth opportunities, better align us to our clients and enhance employee engagement.
Courageous Conversations Point to Racial Justice
A diverse, equitable and inclusive Assurant helps us better understand and connect with our employees, clients and customers while fueling our ability to deliver innovative offerings and enhancing our customer experience as we continue to be a best place to work for our employees and support more sustainable communities.
Our core values — common sense, common decency, uncommon thinking and uncommon results — guide the way we do business every day. If anyone at Assurant has an idea or sees something that needs to change, we have always supported an environment of inclusion that encourages people to speak up and have their voices heard.
As a global organization that champions common decency, we wanted to continue leading by example, so we promoted open dialogue and debate even when it might’ve felt uncomfortable.
Assurant and the Assurant Foundation are proud to support several charities and organizations focused on communities of color, including Black and African American communities. These include charitable grants and volunteer support aligned to our Assurant Foundation focus area of "Inspiring: We encourage and prepare diverse talent and innovative leaders for the future."
In addition to the Courageous Conversations panel, we kicked off a 2:1 match of donations to social justice antiracism charitable organizations for our Assurant employees last summer and that initiative will run through the end of the month in recognition of Black History Month.
This year, we're also helping employees learn more about the work of some of our charitable DEI partners. We will host an internal virtual panel, which will feature three of our strategic corporate DEI partners, to honor and celebrate the history and achievements of the Black and African American community while also recognizing the challenges that continue to exist today.
Learn more about Assurant's continued commitments to our people and communities across the globe here.