Professional Insight

Engaging the Actuarial Community to Combat Racism and Foster Support of Black Actuaries

The Black Lives Matter movement put a heightened focus on the ongoing systemic racism oppressing the Black community. These systems of oppression continue to permeate through society and even in corporate settings, both limiting the success and advancement of Black actuaries as well as presenting large obstacles for companies looking to cultivate true diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within their organizations.

The IABA Pledge was created for the specific needs of the actuarial profession in addressing the barriers to entry and the achievement of underrepresented groups within the actuarial profession. By way of background, let us start with a list of things we know:

  1. Diversity is beneficial. Studies have shown that increasing (and retaining) diversity in the workplace improves innovation, financial performance, decision-making and marketplace relevance.[1]
  2. The actuarial profession lacks representation of minority talent across all levels. Despite DEI programs and the existence of support organizations like the International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA), founded in 1992, and Organization of Latino Actuaries (OLA), founded in 2017, Black and Latinx actuaries are still significantly underrepresented. Black and Latinx people represent approximately 12% and 15% of the U.S. population, respectively, yet each group represents less than 2% of credentialed actuaries. Differences in representation in management and senior leadership are even more stark. It is evident that the industry has a long way to go to achieve proportionate representation in the field.
  3. Diversity alone is not enough. Diversity is only one piece of the puzzle — it must be accompanied by equity and inclusion, which are equal if not greater pieces of that puzzle. If people of color do not see a path to success yet feel they belong on that path, it will be extremely difficult to attract sufficient numbers of actuarial candidates (both entry-level and experienced). Inclusion and equity are imperative to improving retention.
  4. Collective action and collaboration drive change. IABA has always approached the work of DEI through a collaborative lens. We can be more effective and have greater impact if we share, learn from one another, and motivate one another to set bold goals and work toward achieving them together.
  5. Actuarial employers and recruiters are integral to closing opportunity gaps. Actuarial employers must consider and implement recommendations for building DEI in the workplace. Consistent application of recommendations will ensure people of color are being given the same opportunities for growth and success as are White people. Actuarial recruiters hold a lot of power in helping companies identify talent. As such, recruiters play an equally important role in considering recommendations for ensuring diverse talent in sourcing, recruiting and hiring strategies.

Introduced in 2020 and implemented in early 2021, the IABA Pledge provides a foundation and framework for both actuarial employers (i.e., IABA Commitment to Change) and recruiting firms (i.e., IABA Action Pact) to support and improve the representation of Black actuaries in the profession. These frameworks are meant to correct imbalances by stripping away and avoiding practices that are inequitable and unfair, and that disproportionately hinder underrepresented and marginalized groups. They are meant to correct preferential systems that have been in place for ages, not just in corporations but in society as a whole.

IABA’s Corporate Partner-level companies were the first group invited to sign the Pledge. The initial cohort includes AIG, Ally, Cigna, Everest, Milliman, New York Life, Principal, and Prudential. On the recruiter side, three premier actuarial recruiting firms have begun implementing the Action Pact: DW Simpson & Company, Galecki Search Associates and Oliver James.

With collaboration and action across all aspects of the profession, IABA is working with industry partners to collectively improve key performance indicators associated with Black actuarial representation in the industry to help achieve the following two industry-wide goals:

  1. At least 3% of senior leadership roles will be represented by Black actuaries in five years.
  2. At least 5% of management roles will be represented by Black actuaries in five years.

How to learn more and give support

We are calling on the actuarial profession to instill change and build pipelines for the long-term increase in and development of Black actuaries across all levels. While DEI efforts have expanded throughout the industry in recent years, we believe these attainable goals will increase the number of successful Black actuaries at an unprecedented and sustainable pace.

Actuarial employers and recruiting firms that are interested in learning more can visit the IABA Pledge website. All companies, even those not enrolled in a Pledge cohort, are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Pledge and to implement the recommendations provided.

Kate Weaver has served as IABA executive director since 2009.

[1]   Some examples include McKinsey & Company’s 2020 report, “Diversity wins: How inclusion matters,” and BCG Henderson’s 2017 article, “Diversity at Work,”

Actuarial Recruiters and Employers Share their Early Experiences as Part of the IABA Pledge Cohort

“Our recruiting team strongly feels the importance of increasing the equity and representation of underrepresented groups in the workplace. As external recruiters, we can move the needle on that by ensuring we align our efforts with organizations like IABA as well as our recruiting colleagues both internally and externally,” said Anna Kupik, IABA Action Pact representative for Galecki Search Associates. “Being a part of the IABA [Pledge] Cohort has allowed us to zero in on efforts that would have the most impact both in the short term and long term. To be effective, efforts need to be strategic and not fragmented or duplicative; to make a long-term impact we need to work together.” Kupik noted that being a part of the cohort empowered peers to share their ideas. “We have been able to better understand the strengths we have and the gaps we face in our contributions related to equity and representation,” she said.

“AIG, along with other employers, understand the benefits a diverse team brings to a company,” said Melissa McDermott, ACAS, who is AIG’s chief actuary, North America-General Insurance. McDermott got involved with IABA to be part of the team to help bring about change and create a diverse employee base at the leadership level for actuaries. Some of the changes include raising awareness of actuarial careers among high school and college students, identifying biases in recruiting and establishing key metrics to track improvements. “The opportunity to openly discuss potential barriers and strategize how to overcome those hurdles has been powerful,” she said. “I would highly encourage more companies to sign the pledge; the more power behind this important initiative, the more positive change we can make.”

Eric Sligay, ACAS, MAAA, senior director of actuarial pricing and reserving for Ally said the Pledge is consistent with his company’s culture of driving diversity, equity and inclusion. “[The Pledge] aligns with our corporate philosophy of doing it right and being even better. Perhaps most importantly, it’s simply the right thing to do,” he said. “I’m reminded of what my father told me as a young man, ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’ It’s crucial that we work together to improve participation of underrepresented groups in this profession that has given us all so much,” he said. “Opening the door for others is one of the best ways we can give back to the profession, drive change and ultimately enhance our profession by attracting the best and brightest.”

Ari Moskowitz, ACAS, of Everest Re Group, Ltd. declared that signing the Pledge was an easy decision for his company. “The Pledge only further emphasizes our commitment to ensuring awareness and the increased support and development within all diverse, actuarial communities,” said Moskowitz, who is SVP, chief operations officer and chief pricing actuary-reinsurance for the company. “We have the opportunity to partner with organizations that have similar drive and purpose, and to experience many of the same challenges and successes alike. We want to help increase diversity overall and learning from one another helps to push the needle forward faster,” he said. “The larger the Pledge and the cohort, the stronger the initiative and the closer we will be to achieving results for all.”