The PLUS Foundation is doing great things!! And all members of PLUS and the professional liability industry should be very proud.
Since the start of my career, the professional liability industry has made significant progress in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our business is much more diverse in all ways – and we are all better for it. Our industry had a long way to go to become diverse and inclusive. Thankfully, we are making progress every day towards achieving a goal that, until recently, seemed to be a significant stretch.
With the support of PLUS, the PLUS Foundation, through its incredible board of directors and Executive Director, is a leader in making this dream a reality.
Recently, the Foundation adjusted its mission to exclusively focus on supporting tomorrow’s diverse professional liability workforce. It did not take long for that change to have a meaningful impact on our industry.
Through outreach, education, mentoring and giving back, the Foundation strives to support individuals and groups that face obstacles to entering or advancing their careers in professional liability insurance, and populations that are underrepresented in the industry and in senior management.
Daily, what the Foundation does is far less complicated than that sounds. The Foundation executes its mission through the following core programs and activities –
- Women’s Leadership Network
- Conference Cause
- LAMP (Leadership and Mentoring Program)
- PLUS Chapter Ally Grants
You can learn more about the Foundation at www.plusfoundation.org.
As an example, I would like to highlight the impact of the LAMP program. Now in its seventh year, the LAMP program has been transformative for PLUS and the Foundation. There are now LAMP participants on both boards – LaVonda McLean, a member of the first LAMP cohort, is a member of the PLUS Executive Committee and will be PLUS President in three years. Jahan Cedeno, also a member of the first LAMP cohort, is a member of the Foundation board. And this past year Jahan was Chairperson of the Foundation’s DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility) Committee. Aneisha Goldsmith, a graduate of the 2019 LAMP cohort, is joining the PLUS Foundation board in 2023.
LaVonda, Jahan and Aneisha demonstrate that LAMP participants remain connected to PLUS – with a strong desire to give back to the organization that has supported their personal and professional development. They are motivated to participate in PLUS – enthusiastically attending PLUS Conferences and Symposia – and they recruit colleagues and friends to become involved in PLUS. LAMP participants bring an energy and enthusiasm that is contagious – and represent a different perspective that was sorely lacking in our industry.
However, there is more work to be done. The October 2022 issue of Business Insurance included an article titled “Diversity in the workplace.” The results of the included lengthy survey are very interesting – I urge you to review them as further food for thought about DEI efforts in our industry.
In one example, a significant number of respondents provided the following suggestions when asked how companies can improve ways to support their employees with diversity and inclusion efforts –
- Provide more networking opportunities (engage with professionals, build long lasting relationships)
- Provide professional development opportunities (mentorships, training, speakers)
- Provide empowering opportunities (confidence building)
Importantly, PLUS and the PLUS Foundation provide all these opportunities today. PLUS is especially focused on creating content for the less experienced members of our industry. The Foundation recognized that there was a need to foster connections and moved quickly to fill the gap. The Foundation’s core programs address professional liability employees’ needs today.
Finally, in order to highlight the importance of outstanding individual achievements, two years ago the Foundation created the Excellence in Diversity award to recognize a member of the insurance industry whose actions have significantly advanced our business in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
There is certainly much more good work to be done. The Foundation needs your support to accomplish its mission – please consider donating in any way that you are able – by giving your time, your leadership or other resources.
Get involved. Make a difference. Be a part of the change. The more you participate the faster we will positively impact tomorrow’s professional liability workforce.
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