Providing Inclusivity and Confronting Unconscious Bias
by: Martin Powell, CUNA Mutual Group
We had the opportunity to interview Martin Powell, head of annuity distribution at CUNA Mutual Group and a supporter of BISA’s Black Voices Unmuted task force, to share how leaders in his organization are tackling unconscious bias and creating an inclusive environment.
1. How have the CUNA Mutual Group leader retreats been impactful in terms of training the organization about inclusivity and unconscious bias?
It’s been a very eye-opening experience for the leaders at CUNA Mutual Group. We have realized that diversity and inclusion require care, focus and looking into the mirror to identify our unconscious bias. The conversation of candor has led to acknowledgement and learnings that we come from different places in life, but we share the same goal of creating an inclusive environment for all. Ultimately, it has led to more transparency, trust and respect amongst leaders.
2. What are you personally aiming to do in 2022 as a leader at CUNA Mutual Group to foster inclusivity?
Internally and externally increase the hiring, retention, development and career advancement of minorities and women in financial services. Drive awareness that a diverse and inclusive financial services industry leads to long-term growth and stability. Help bring awareness to minorities and women about the tremendous career opportunities in financial advisory and insurance wholesaling. Mentor minorities and women on the skills and education they need to attain to land a job in financial services.
3. What recommendations would you share with others who are looking to build successful, high performing, inclusive teams at their organization?
Challenge your leaders to look to hire people who have backgrounds, interest and personalities that may be opposite to theirs. Expand their recruiting networks to HBCU’s, state and private universities that have high enrollment of diverse student body, as well as non-profit organizations (Association of Wholesaler of Diversity, BISA, African American Financial Advisor Association and Coalition for Equity in Wholesaling) that have access to top talent minorities and women. Leaders should ultimately challenge themselves to identify their unconscious bias and stereotypes through formal inclusivity training. Create a culture that is free of stereotypes and one that embraces diverse thought and background. Inclusivity, not exclusivity, leads to a high performing team that has trust, respect and appreciation for each team member.