events

Events of the past few years---including the recent police shootings, homophobia and concerns about illegal immigration—are negatively influencing workforces across the country, according to Howard Ross, founder and chief learning officer of Cook Ross Inc.

Speaking on “Managing in a Time of Fear” during last fall’s Business Insurance Diversity & Inclusion Institute conference, Mr. Ross explained how managers can help ease their employees’ fears by demonstrating their concern for what is happening in the world around them.

Later during the conference, Eric Alva, the first American soldier wounded during Operation Iraqi Freedom, spoke about his battle to overcome his injuries and the difficulties he encountered after leaving the military and coming out as gay. From learning to walk with a prosthetic, to his desire to continue his education and obtain his degree, Mr. Alva inspired his audience to persevere by demonstrating how he conquered such obstacles.

A panel of insurance industry executives candidly shared how “covering at work” can inhibit employee performance, and that employees should be encouraged to “bring their whole selves to work” to enhance organizational effectiveness.


During a closed-door roundtable held on the morning of the second day of the conference, eight insurance industry CEOs gathered to develop a “commitment statement” that was later revealed during a session addressing the business imperative for embracing diversity and inclusion.



The conference, held Sept. 28-29 in Chicago, also featured innovative diversity training by Second City Works, the B2B side of The Second City, the world’s leading comedy theater and school of improvisation. Another session used gamification to connect the concept of diversity with inclusion, as attendees played Contineo, an interactive game that uses conversations, challenges and other engaging activities, to teach the fundamentals of D&I.

Other conference sessions addressed:

  • D+I considerations in client engagement


  • Insurance regulator focus on driving diversity in the industry
  • Demonstrations of technology designed to facilitate diversity and inclusion.
  • The latest D&I research conducted by the Institute and in conjunction with the Families & Work Institute
  • Executive Insights – short, inspirational speeches by industry leaders from Ryan Specialty Group, The Hartford, Willis Towers Watson and Zurich

The Absolute Inclusion Leadership Conference was the inaugural event of Business Insurance’s Diversity & Inclusion Institute, which was launched in December 2015 to promote and advance diversity and inclusion throughout the commercial insurance industry. The 2017 Institute conference, which will address ways that D&I can improve corporate image and profitability, is in the planning stages.