Having recently appeared at a Business Insurance panel debate, Crawford® president and CEO, Harsha V. Agadi, shares his observations about how the company’s commitment to diversity is progressing.
Diversity comes in many forms – in thought, culture, gender, age, ethnicity, experience and it is our goal at Crawford to create an organization that challenges the status quo, celebrating diversity in the fullest possible way.
In November 2017, I had the pleasure of representing our company alongside a number of leading women executives at the Business Insurance Women to Watch program and panel discussion in London. The event had many objectives, the first of which gave me great pride as we celebrated award winners and nominees in the Women to Watch competition, including our very own Germany Managing Director Andrea Fregona. On December 15, we will also celebrate Erica Fichter, SVP – Medical Management and the U.S. award winners at the awards ceremony in New York.
Of course the objective of these events are not only to pat our colleagues on the back, but to acknowledge and discuss solutions for the very real challenges that still exist. Unfortunately, women remain a minority group at all levels, particularly in executive and management ranks, across the global insurance industry and while improvements are being made within the sector, we still have work to do collectively.
From our own company’s point of view, there were some diversity milestones that I was proud to share at the event, including the fact that our Global Executive Management (GEM) is now composed of 12 people, six of whom are either female or from an ethnic minority background. In addition, Crawford is a U.S. based company and five of our 12 member team are born outside of the U.S. which provides diversity in thought and a true global perspective.
There is much more still to be done, but by creating a culture that transparently discusses the challenges which still exist we are working to give back, support women and minorities and help them pursue their careers without barriers in their way.
We have a number of goals and programs already in place at Crawford that were inspired by employees and that we are looking to replicate throughout our business.
The result is that we are creating a Crawford culture designed to encourage and open up opportunities for women, while eliminating barriers to succeed. For example, by supporting working parents and helping them achieve the right kind of work-life balance, or by providing flexible working arrangements, we can keep talented people within our business.
Women’s Leadership Development Program Global Rollout in 2018
To address the discrepancy at the executive level, we recently completed a pilot Women’s Leadership Development program in the U.S., with 30 women taking part in a 6 month, impact learning and networking program. The feedback received from our participants was very positive and so we plan to implement the program globally in 2018.
Meanwhile, we have an Emerging Leaders program which identifies rising stars within Crawford and puts them onto a leadership track. As part of this process, we carefully review demographics and ensure diverse selection of participants. Just as technology is disrupting our industry, we are trying to disrupt its demographics.
Returning to the top level of management, I realize it is incumbent on myself, our Global Executive Management team and all of our senior leadership to embrace diversity. The most obvious pitfall of remaining in a comfort zone regarding diversity is that companies can easily fall into the trap of hiring like-minded people.
We all must be ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ and remind colleagues that the greatest innovations do not come from minds that accept the status quo; they come from minds that see what can be and are prepared to view the world from a different lens.
We have to challenge ourselves to think outside the box and accept the fact that at Crawford, diversity is not an ‘initiative’, it’s a mindset.
Harsha V. Agadi
President & CEO
Crawford & Company