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Getting to Know: James Bynoe

Intact Insurance Specialty Solutions’ chief claims counsel explains why D&I is at the heart of all he does.

February 17, 2021 Photo

With over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry across a number of different roles—including trial attorney, managing attorney, and now, chief claims counsel—Bynoe explains why diversity and inclusion is now at the heart of all he does as he works to end systemic racism.

Dream Building

Bynoe says the industry found him during a college summer internship at Liberty Mutual—little did he know he would return 10 years later to the same company as an in-house staff counsel. After trying cases for the first 20 years, he moved into a corporate counsel role and, ultimately, into the claims side of the organization.

“The discussion was lively and the audience engaged, but the vast majority of attendees were industry professionals and attorneys of color.” Bynoe, expressing disappointment that there was not greater participation by majority law firm members during CLM’s virtual town hall on systemic racism.

Scrutinizing Systemic Racism

Bynoe says he recently participated in CLM’s virtual town hall on systemic racism for two reasons: First, in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, he felt it was important to participate in a dialogue about how systemic racism impacts our professional community. Second, he said by sharing his personal experiences with colleagues, it would make the conversation more meaningful and less abstract for those who actually know or who have worked with him.   

“Companies must establish a culture of inclusion; focus on recruitment, advancement, and retention; and establish benchmarks to continually assess the success of a program.” Bynoe, describing how effective D&I programs are set up and monitored.

“A number of friends and colleagues, who are white, were surprised and sometimes shocked to learn about some of my personal experiences involving racism.” Bynoe, explaining how even though sharing his first-hand experiences can be awkward, it also can have a much greater and immediate impact on change.

Work to Be Done

When asked how effective D&I programs have been in the insurance industry, Bynoe noted that, in his opinion, such initiatives have had limited success. He says senior leadership is critical to the effectiveness of any D&I initiative. Unless there is an intentional and sustained effort to create and establish an inclusive culture from the top of the organization down, it is virtually impossible to implement an effective program.

“I hope readers will give pause and consider what they can do to help support their company or firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts and to eradicate systemic racism.” Bynoe, issuing a call to action to everyone across the industry.

About The Authors
Eric Gilkey

Eric Gilkey is vice president of content at the CLM, and serves as executive editor of CLM magazine, the flagship publication of the CLM.  eric.gilkey@theclm.org

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Through education and action, CLM’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee advances the mission of inclusion, and identifies and supports practices that demonstrate leadership in common core values. The committee offers unique opportunities to help strengthen CLM’s partners and perspectives.

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