Diversity Woman Magazine

WIN 2017

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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We Mean Business > 24 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N W i n t e r 2 0 1 7 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m DW: What are the biggest hiring chal- lenges you're facing right now? BL: ere are a couple that are a chal- lenge in a lot of industries right now. e baby boomers are retiring relatively quickly. As that starts to pick up, orga- nizations aren't really structured today to make the transfer of knowledge. As people with these unique skills retire, it's been challenging because the next generation is much smaller. Also, they came through when there was lots of unrest. And then you have the millenni- als, who are really large as a group, but they don't have a lot of experience. So it's important to make sure that those generations are able to work together, and that millennials are able to digest the information and take it forward. DW: What are you doing to help employ- ees of different ages and backgrounds work together? BL: ere are lots of things we do. We have two award-winning programs—our underwriting training program and our claims training program—that can help people early in their career learn the in- surance industry and get mentoring. It speeds up their learning curve quite a bit. We have people who have been with our company for five years, but they seem like they've been in it for 10 or 15. Our employee resource groups do quite a bit of mentoring. I'm the sponsor of our largest employee resource group, the Women's Innovation Network [WIN], which has 1,800 members. e thing that really helps more than anything else is that when we design pro- grams, whether learning or benefit pro- grams, we make sure that we use diverse teams to come up with the design. ose teams reflect the employee population or our aspirational employee population. Having networks of people who are different from you and developing authentic connections will help build your career. DW: How would you describe your lead- ership style? BL: My style is to encourage, support, de- velop. I like to ensure that people learn, whether it's through storytelling or tak- ing accountability, and doing it with my support. I'm a big cheerleader. I think people can live up to expectations rather than living down to them. Most people with the right skills and the right attitude can do well. DW: What advice would you give men who want to help women succeed in the workplace? BL: One, don't assume you know every- thing about women. But, also, don't be afraid. I think that the opportunity for men to learn about women on an indi- vidual basis and collectively is there to- day, whether it's through networks like WIN—and we include men—or other opportunities. DW: You've said that diversity means recognizing a person's many facets. Why is that important? BL: We all are many things. I'm a hus- band. I'm a father. I'm an executive. I'm an African American. Not one in particu- lar provides my definition. When diver- sity programs focus on one element, they miss those things that bring it all togeth- er. All of us are unique, but we have some commonalties as well. We can help people connect. We did an exercise in our office in New York. People wrote what made them different [on a white board], and we took their pic- ture. Some people wrote, "I'm tall." "I'm short." "I'm gay." It was from their per- spective and, to a certain degree, what they wanted to be appreciated for. People want to be recognized in many different ways. People didn't know all of these dif- ferences, because many of them are invis- ible. We may miss things that can help us work better together. is was an easy way to talk about it. DW: What advice would you give recent college graduates on the job hunt? BL: Be open. Try to do things that will in- troduce you to new topics and new people so that you can grow. ere's a professor named Brian Uzzi at the Kellogg School of Management, and he does studies on networks and how people can be influen- tial. He tells a story about Paul Revere. ere were two riders. Paul rode half as long and talked to half as many people [as the lesser-known William Dawes]. But Paul had a very eclectic network, and be- cause of that, people told others. When you start your career, be like Paul Revere. Have an eclectic network, perhaps it's a hobby—maybe you like to ride bikes. Having networks of people who are dif- ferent from you and developing authentic connections will help build your career. DW: What's coming up at Zurich North America? BL: We're trying to make insurance cool. People don't think about it as a cool en- vironment, but it is here. We do things differently here. One thing that's excit- ing is we're completing a corporate head- quarters in Schaumburg, Illinois. It's a thing of beauty, and it's high in technol- ogy. e reason we did it was to focus on the culture we want to have over the next 20 years. We think it will help make our workplace even cooler. DW: What great book have you read recently? BL: Reinventing Organizations, by Frederic Laloux. It's about how much structures play into the success of organizations. You get what you design. Being an HR person, that fascinates me—being sure that organizations are conscious of the structures they create. DW: What is your favorite object in your office? BL: ere's a picture of my wife. She is a wonderful, smart person who's been in- strumental in my success and every day gives me great advice and counsel. I'm very fortunate to be married to her. DW

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