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Changing Priorities

Annual Conference keynote points to diversity, innovation as top industry challenges

September 15, 2021 Photo

Sompo Global Risk Solutions CEO Michael Chang was the keynote speaker at CLM’s 2021 Annual Conference opening session last month. Chang’s dynamic presentation focused on some of the biggest challenges facing the insurance industry, including a lack of diversity, changing expectations, and a need for innovation.

Chang began by addressing COVID-19 as one of the top challenges facing insurers. Describing it as a “car that starts and stops,” he encouraged the industry to move forward safely, and he described insurance as an industry he loves because “we always help bring economies back,” something he said should be promoted more often. He said a collective effort between government, private, and public entities is needed to develop solutions, and insurers can play a big role in that.

Chang also focused on inclusive diversity during his keynote address, noting that as of one of the few executives of color in the industry, he leads by example.

“If I don’t do it, who will?” asked Chang. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the caliber of people we have been able to attract [to Sompo], and what we’ve been able to do. I’m proud to say that more than 50 percent of the leadership team at Sompo GRS are women, people of color, and of the LGBTQ community.”

Chang made the case for diversity by citing numerous studies over the last several years that show diverse organizations have an edge over their competitors.

“It’s a proven fact: diverse organizations perform better than non-diverse organizations,” said Chang. “If you have people from across the globe and include women, LGBTQ, people who look like me, you’re going to get a result that is different from [an organization that all looks the same.] I know where I want to be—I want to be a company of the future, not the past. To do that, you have to embrace inclusive diversity.”

Dovetailing with the discussion of inclusive diversity, Chang’s closing remarks also focused on innovation and ways to attract millennials and Gen Z professionals to the industry.

“We have to take [our industry] from ‘The Flintstones’ to ‘The Jetsons,’ by evolving and innovating,” he said. “But what we can’t do is go too far to the left or right. It’s not all about the data, because you still need smart people to make good decisions on risk. And it’s not all about doing things the old way either, simply because that is what worked in the past. I know it’s scary for some, but if we as an industry are going to attract top talent at the colleges and universities and get people excited about this industry, we have to evolve. For somebody who loves this industry, I feel optimistic.” 

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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