Posted on September 16, 2020

“We Cannot Let It Just Be Words”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) today told a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) panel that it is leading an industry initiative to embed and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion practices across its membership and beyond.

IRI President and CEO Wayne Chopus participated in a virtual meeting of the NAIC Special Executive Committee on Race and Insurance, which convened to gather information on the current level of diversity and inclusion within the insurance industry and the insurance regulatory community, and other issues.

Chopus told the committee that he and his members were deeply affected by the death of George Floyd, which led IRI to issue a statement on a critical societal issue outside of its focus on retirement security.

“We typically stick to retirement-related statements and issues,” Chopus said. “But the IRI leadership team and I felt that this was the time, and this was the issue to expand our voice. We knew it was the right message. But as I said to our board of directors, we cannot let it just be words. We must take action.”

Chopus outlined a number of actions that IRI has undertaken to date including establishing a board of directors working group; establishing a steering committee comprised of more than 20 DEI experts from IRI member companies; and identifying the initial work that will be addressed. Next steps will be to establish criteria to measure progress and drive adoption of identified best practices.

“Our initial focus will be on underrepresented minority groups with a special eye toward the unique needs of the Black community, and we’ll be particularly focused on talent retention and acquisition for this population,” Chopus said.

Chopus added that IRI also is exploring how it may advocate for additional solutions to help effect change beyond the industry.

“IRI is uniquely positioned to help spur needed changes given our membership represents the complete supply chain of the insured retirement industry,” Chopus said. “As an industry and as an association, we are committed to an empowered, diverse workforce, and to serving and treating all people equitably with dignity and respect.”

Other issues to be explored by the NAIC Race and Insurance Committee include access by people of color and historically underrepresented groups to insurance products and coverages; the existence of current practices or barriers in the insurance sector that potentially disadvantage people of color and/or historically underrepresented groups in the areas of (a) life insurance and annuities, (b) health insurance, and (c) property and casualty insurance; and steps insurance regulators and/or the insurance industry can take to increase diversity and inclusion within the insurance industry.

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Contact: Dan Zielinski