The Amber Stitt Show

Focus on Community: How Ameritas is implementing DEI into their workplace

April 25, 2023 Amber Stitt
The Amber Stitt Show
Focus on Community: How Ameritas is implementing DEI into their workplace
Show Notes Transcript

In Today's Episode of #ThePathwaysofPeakPerformance, I welcomed back Lined Mason, from Ameritas to discuss the importance of personal commitment and initiative for success.

Lined and I discuss how she has been working hard collaborating with others to develop Inclusion and how Ameritas has expanded new Resource Groups to be available to all walks of life.

She and I speak about the implementation that Ameritas has done with their study and resource groups. I have been part of such study groups and believe that the community element of learning from others, can truly help your practice and that can help your clients.

Highlights from this episode are:

- Hiring based on skill regardless of race/ethnicity
-Tapping into diverse markets
- The link between HR/recruiters and diverse candidate pools
- Statistics and benefits of mentorship and mentoring programs
- Inclusion and diversity and their foundations
- Implementing resource groups and being inclusive for better companies
- Leadership as key component in DEI initiatives and creating diversity inclusion Council
- Surveys and resource groups created for DEI initiatives

Some of the Current Ameritas Resource Groups:

Ameritas Growth Leaders
Ameritas Women Elevated
DEI Counsel
Young Bison
Babs Black American Resource

It is very important to Team up and don't try to do this alone.

#buildcommunity #takeactiontoday #diversityandinclusion #diversity #Ameritas #AmeritasLife #diversitymatters #inclusion #inclusionmatters #representationmatters #equality #leadership #equity #diversityequityinclusion #community  #diversityisbeautiful #dei #education #lgbtq #disability #genderequality #inclusivity #socialjustice #inclusionanddiversity 

Amber 0:18
Welcome to today's show. I am very excited to introduce my friend Lined Mason. And if you haven't listened to previous episodes yet, please dive into our first couple where we discussed not only di but a great resignation. And so I love having Lined on here because we work together in the insurance industry. And she is the VP of service and individual operations over at Ameritas. And so I welcome you back, Lined and I'm so excited to have you on our show to really talk about ways to implement diversion equality and inclusion in the workplace. So before we kick it off, I'd love to have you share with the audience that they don't know you yet. A little bit more about what you do every day or at your organization.

Lined 1:02
Thank you Amber appreciate being here with you again. So what I do in the organization that I've been in for 30 years, is I am while my title is VP of service, I'm a problem solver, right so my team processes anything a light guy, a new any new business new applications coming in. I also have the contact center so they're answering calls from our field partners, our clients. And then we have our back office policy service team that handles all the changes that happen after the case is put in for so a lot of client-facing a lot of agent facing and really hard working great, dedicated team. Absolutely, yeah, I do. We're in the midst right now. Just trying to build more technology and just make our processes more efficient to you know, to help with all this business coming in and making the experience good for our clients.

Amber 2:06
Yeah, I think that you guys, that's another I forgot about the tech, the tech Task Force and some of the innovation that you guys have had in the insurance industry. As far as some of the technology that is being rolled out. I feel like you guys are usually first to the forefront if you can be to add things that would make not only the team, the people in the field their life easier, but for the clients too. So it's always fun to hang out with you guys and talk about what you're doing. When we talked initially, in the podcast, we were discussing what is dei and diversity, equality and inclusion. And so we gave some takeaways, but I would love to talk about ways that you're implementing different steps within your organization. Because I think sometimes people might feel like it might be too difficult to roll out some of some of these steps. And so if the audience hasn't listened to our original episodes yet, let's just kind of give them a high level of what we've talked about. So you were touching on inclusion quite a bit. When it comes to what is Dei. Let's just answer that question again here today. And then talk about ways that you guys are plugging in some resource groups within the organization. We could probably start there, and then we'll give the audience some tips once we're done with that.

Lined 3:27
Sounds good. So you know, going back to the definition, right? So I always like to start with inclusion first. I think it's the foundation, right? It's just making people feel welcome. Including them listening to them. You know, just being there on the front. You know, making sure that they're paid attention to and listened to the right is key you have to listen to people really understand what's happening with them. And then of course, you know, treating people equally, and then diversity means, you know, anything from a human standpoint that makes us all a little bit different, right? It could be the color of your hair, the color of your eyes, my accent, it could be you know, your skill sets, you know, it could be so many things, right? It's just really taking the time to understand what those differences are and just incorporating it in our day-to-day lives because we're going to learn a lot from each other.

Amber 4:24
Yeah, I mean, I think about when we look at focusing on talents you don't want everyone to be the same, you wouldn't get anything done. We want to really bring in different talents to have those different skill sets and different thoughts coming from different cultures and experiences. So really mixing it up is I think, really great for everybody to really make a difference. But let's talk about some of these groups. I know that you've told me I've heard it through the pipeline, just you know, from conversations through either comp conferences or conversations we've had, but what are some of the groups that you're affiliated with now because this could give other organizations ideas of what to put out there themselves? So I'll let you talk about that a little bit.

Lined 5:09
Yeah, so I think I'm gonna start too with, like, how our journey even started to get to that point where we created this, these resource groups because I think we have a good story to tell because I'm just going to touch on what you said early on in this podcasts as it's, it's a big initiative, right? It's really big and it can be really overwhelming. So you have to take it in chunks in order to be successful instead of trying to just get everything done out of the gate. And so the approach we took was number one, it has to be a commitment, right? And it has to come from senior leadership, right? So that was our CEO. He said, We need to make this part of our culture and we need to take the steps to get there right so that was number one. And once that came into play, then we also created a diversity inclusion council that is made up of senior leadership within the organization. So I am part of that council as well. And it is a commitment right because we have a full-time job but we all raised our hands. It was voluntary. We raised our hands and we said that this initiative is so important, we want to be part of it. And so what we basically do is we work with other partners like marketing human resource, our CEO, you know, just to figure out okay, what are the things we need to work on? Do we need more HR, you know, education pieces, so Okay, let's put that out there. Do we need to market things a little bit differently? Let's put that out there. You know, how do we recruit people in diverse markets, right, those are the kinds of things that were involved in, you know, and then we also took some other steps like looking at our board members, right? Like, how do we make our board more diverse as well? So we worked on that. We created a couple of surveys that go out a couple of times a year just to kind of gauge where we are and then we'll also use the mat as measurements. You know, what are the things we need to work on? And what are the things we're really doing good at? And then we also created to your point, these resource groups and, again, you know, we put it out on intranet, we said I you know, we're understanding that people want to create resource groups. We don't want to get too crazy and create 100 of these, right, because this isn't for us. So we want to make sure let's pick for where we think it's gonna have an impact and where we're getting the most votes to have as resource groups. And let's measure how this happens in how it goes along for the next year and then we'll add on to that. But you know, we had a couple of associates within the company that raised their hands and they said, not only do I want to be part of these resource groups, but I want to lead these resource groups. And we have for right now we have our young bison which is new associates come in into the insurance industry. We have BABS, which is a black American resource. We have associates with disability and then we have the LGBTQ plus resource group. And it's not only just them working together, you know, just to you know, kind of bounce ideas off each other and education and all that stuff, but they're also working with the community as well, and it's been working out really great. I'm so impressed by these individuals and have taken this on. And then we also have senior leadership that is linked to each one of these resource groups to help all right, guide them, and also if they run into any roadblocks. Senior Leadership is going to try to help them with this.

Lined 8:57
So leadership says yes, we need to do this. Okay. So that's a step, then. I think you guys had this rolled out almost within 12 months of the Yes, I mean, is sounds like it's doable. I mean, yeah, this would be something that you could implement even faster if your organization's smaller, but it sounds like we got the yes from the leadership and then there's a person that's raising their hand. So we assigned a point person that can work directly with the leadership and then it can be rolled out so I mean, am I right on the timeframe because I think I remember seeing different logos and things within a short window of time. So it's, and you guys created it for what if there's just one? It's doable, I guess, is my point. Yes,

Amber 9:47
absolutely. So we started by asking for ideas for resource groups around October of last year. Yeah, man, you know, they had to come up with their plan, you know, by the fourth quarter of last year and in January, they just, they are up and running, which we've gotten them a lot of really, really great feedback. They've had some great speakers, as well. It's just been really well received.

Lined 10:15
The Young Bison, I don't know that everyone in the audience would know what bison stands for. Do want to share about that a little bit. What the bison is for? Well,

Amber 10:25
yeah. So the bison is not pleased and was not confused about buffalo, right? It's a it's, it's a strong animal, right? And it's and it's our logo. And so yeah, so that's where that that came from.

Lined 10:43
Yeah, so I like that. We've you and I we're about advocating for the industry in financial services, but then also really trying to get more of the younger generation interested. We talk about it a lot where with my daughter who's almost four, you know, these, what do you want to be when you grow up and they don't say I want to do financial planning. I want to be a planner I want to be an insurance to the planner. That doesn't happen. So we have to try to incorporate you know, that's part of my mission is part of my mission statement is to really help the younger people but I like that you guys have a way to tap into the younger generation to really get them interested and find a place in the financial services. So we've talked about the resource groups now but that doesn't stop there. You also have leadership groups, too. Okay. So but one has been around for quite a bit of time the AGL and then ah is something that we just were able to participate in for the first time they had a kickoff. So let's talk about these two groups because this is something people could incorporate within their own organizations as well.

Lined 11:53
Yeah, so the Ameritas Growth Leaders (AGL) and our four advisors and this is kind of the same thing as our young bison, which is our internal resource group, where we are taking young advisors like new in the business that want to get into financial planning, but really need a little bit of help along the way, right. So we help them by connecting them, you know what other people that have fallen in the same lines as they do. We have a couple of meetings set up throughout the year, some in person that we finance where they get to network and brainstorm. And then you know you got to the point of mentoring that was made earlier, there is a more seasoned adviser that gets linked up with these individuals to help as a mentor. Right. I think I've seen some data that says that new advisors, young advisors coming into the business, if they don't have that hand-holding and then mentoring within three years, they just move on to something else, right? So when, you know when our field means that they're, they're getting older, right? They're aging, so we got to make sure that we get these young people engaged because this whole part of financial planning is important. Now more than ever.

Amber 13:18
It's interesting that you say that because I know the American College has a whole set of statistics that talk about mentorship and if you are participating, whether you're receiving mentorship or giving it usually starts this relationship is ongoing because once you serve then you might need to receive and it keeps going on but there's more positive. I don't want to say mental health, but there are more positive experiences. Statistically when people are involved in mentorship. And even if they are giving it giving it away that servitude is definitely something that's good for the soul. And then it's good to serve. So I like how AGL does bring the oh geez to come back around to help as people move up into that leadership group. So that's a co Ed group, and that's on a national basis. And then there, there was a most of the most recent one, women's empowerment, so am I saying that right? Yes. Let's have you talk about that because I might have just said the acronym wrong.

Lined 14:23
It's the Ameritas Women Elevated.

Amber 14:28
elevated. Empowerment. It is empowering.

Lined 14:32
Yes. Right. You're elevating each other. You're empowering each other. It goes hand for sure. And we have about 40 members right now, which is great because I got to tell you when I started in this industry 33 years ago, 40 women advisor it was unheard of. Right. So it's great. That is such a big milestone. We should be very proud of it. But we need to keep growing right but yeah, so we just had our kickoff. Our first in-person meeting was great. I was part of that. And just being able to sit in and listen to all the ideas sharing and you know, phone numbers being exchanged and just like it like a true partnership to support each other was empowering. And I felt energized, right? I'm not even wiser and I totally felt energized about it. So So yes. And then we'll also do the same thing like we will have meetings in-person meetings, virtual pieces of training. You know, we will help you know, support, you know, financially for it for these meetings. So, yeah, I'm expecting a lot of great things from emeritus women elevated as

Amber  15:45
Elevated.... Okay, so for the audience, there's a number of resource groups that you can tap into to create start with maybe one because that's kind of that's what you guys did. I think initially, it was the HTML, and then other things happen after the fact. So as you've been speaking about this, you've done a lot of advocacy over the last I want to say I keep saying 12 months because I just feel like the last year, probably because conferences were starting to happen again. And it wasn't just webinars. As you go and you speak about this, you're being asked to speak between NAIFA and some of these other organizations out there, coming from America as your partner and sponsor you guys are also a partner to women in insurance and financial services. So as you go through and you speak about this, we've talked about a number of things in our previous episodes. To wrap up today, outside of, what we've we've identified as leadership really needs to be a part of it, then we need somebody that can bleed the group. It doesn't have to be perfect just like that. But is there anything else that from commentary feedback that you have you've been a part of, and even just the brainstorming sessions, what else can people do to really put this into motion?

Lined 17:06
Yeah, so I would say a couple of things. I definitely say that commitment, right? You can't do this alone if it's too big. And while you want the commitment from an organizational standpoint, you need to take some initiative in your own right. You have to educate yourself, you have to believe in this in order to be successful. So don't depend 100% on the organization, you have to take the steps. And then what I would say to you know, there's a lot of discussion that comes up in regards to you know, I want to hire more diverse people, but I want to make sure I'm hiring the right person. And what I would say is absolutely 100% At the end of the day, you have to hire the right person with the right skill set and it doesn't matter what they look like right? However, however, you'll be working with HR or someone a recruiter to help you tap into those diverse markets to even recruit from to make them part of your pool of candidates. Right. I think that that's the link that I think sometimes we forget about and teamwork again, yeah, absolutely teamwork, right? You know, my, my people here they're like, you know, they make fun of me because I'm always saying it takes a village It absolutely takes a village. This is not a task that can be done on your own.

Amber 18:32
Well, part of the reason I created the Pathways of Peak Performance podcast is to really it was I always say it's like the collection of the greatest hits up through COVID. I wanted to put together a system that helps people have more resilience. And so if people are teasing you about it takes a village. It takes you got to focus on building your community because things are going to happen. You might have to reschedule something, but if you have a great team, you can then have someone fill the spot or or cross train or whatever the case is, but implementing some of these, these teams that are important because as you and I previously discussed in a different episode about the great resignation, this could be an easy, not easy because it takes some time and sweat equity but an easy solution that takes a few volunteers to then say we can participate in more of that diverse that understanding getting people involved being inclusive, inclusive, that could be a little solution to that great resignation, some of the problems we were seeing, how do we then build better, better companies that are organizations? What if it starts with some of these resource groups, getting people to have some ownership in that business by having their different groups or ways to pull in different thought leadership? So I think that that's a great kind of closing today as we can implement it with some of those resource groups. It also takes leadership and I think when I talk about pathways is really focusing on talent. So looking at who's got different talents for different roles and getting the right people in those roles. I know that you guys do work with some different assessments, and personality assessments to help you guys build your team. So I feel like you've shared a lot of different ways that people can really roll this out into their own lives and their own businesses. So I really appreciate you sharing that with us today. And I really appreciate the partnerships that we've been able to have whether it's with different products that I work with to help clients but then other organizations too, so I can't remember though, are you coming to the conference?

Lined 20:45
I sure am counting down I'm excited.

Amber 20:49
Okay, so I will see you soon. And I love that I've seen you so many times this year. So again, thanks for being here. And I appreciate you being here and for the listeners. Thanks for being here. as well.

Lined 21:00
Thank you. Have a great day.

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