Reader Response

Encouraged by Growing Diversity Efforts

Dear Editor:

I read Steven Armstrong’s “President’s Message” in the September-October issue of AR with great interest. For a handful of years, I led the P&C actuarial recruiting, hiring and training efforts at Mr. Armstrong’s current employer. In that role, I pursued diversifying company recruiting efforts to incorporate schools with no actuarial science program, but strong math programs. The lack of competition from other actuarial employers for the best candidates at these schools proved beneficial, although it did require rethinking many traditional recruiting “givens.”

The lack of racial diversity within the profession in North America had always been a concern of mine. Mr. Armstrong rightly identifies this unintended consequence of the growing pipeline to the profession from schools offering actuarial science majors. I have nothing against these fine schools, but if we are to change the racial diversity of the profession, company recruiting efforts and university recruiting strategies must diversify as well.

I was pleased to see the CAS join the International Association of Black Actuaries Corporate Advisory Council, on which I represented my former employer. I’m heartened to see a greater collective focus being put on increasing diversity within our profession … a very steep hill (mountain?) to climb.

—Jim Rowland, FCAS (Retired)

Dear Editor:

In the September-October 2020 Actuarial Review, CAS President Steven Armstrong writes about the pros and cons of having a majority of actuarial science majors among CAS members. Considering my unique and untraditional education, background and experiences, I would like to share some insight. With respect to an actuarial science degree, it is positive to see universities increase their interest in the actuarial profession. However, according to the Society of Actuaries listing “Universities and Colleges with Actuarial Programs” (UCAP), there are only 208 American schools with properly accredited actuarial programs. This is only 4.77% of the 4,360 degree-granting institutions that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (Digest of Education Statistics, 2018 (NCES 2020-009), Chapter 2). The probability of a student being granted the opportunity to attend one of these prestigious institutions is small. I agree that the CAS should expand their efforts to include nontraditional majors because actuarial candidates come from a variety of backgrounds and their capacity to attain a superior education should not diminish their talent and skills. This brings me to career changers. Seemingly unlikely candidates can excel in their soft and technical skills because they’ve had to pursue this career in less than favorable circumstances. Not only can the CAS increase their member population in the areas of diversity and inclusion on many levels, they can also continue to market themselves as a progressive, innovative and ethical organization during a time when equity and equality are paramount to all.

—Muriel Alejandra Holmquist