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Gore Mutual’s Leadership Approach to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
With Sonia Boyle—Chief People Officer, Gore Mutual Insurance Company
Sonia joined Gore Mutual in 2020 to lead the organization’s strategy on people and culture. Playing a role in their Next Horizon strategy to become a digitally led, purpose-driven, national insurer, DEI conversations have moved to the forefront. We recently asked Sonia to lead our Business Case for DEI panel at our Virtual Convention. Here, we get a closeup view of Sonia’s thoughts, strategies and advice to brokers.
As a senior leader, can you articulate your individual and collective perspective on allyship? How do experiences of power and privilege affect your approach and effectiveness in providing a safe and accepting work environment for employees?
We need to create a safe environment, be an ally and invite differing opinions. For me, it's about understanding my role as a senior leader, being in a role of privilege and being vulnerable with staff. It's up to me to admit we don't have all the answers but will listen to staff with lived experiences to hear their thoughts, hear what they want from their colleagues and what they want from their employer. Together we can learn, eliminate systemic barriers and work to create a safe and inclusive work environment.
As someone who has worked for several large corporations, can you share how effective or ineffective DEI programs may affect their marketplace and business strategy?
It’s about our actions, not just language. Diversity, equity and inclusion programs are more than checklists. They’re more than posters on a wall. It takes commitment in time and resources. Effective programs are implemented with transparency, diversity of thought and opinion that comes from the voices of employees and community. It will allow for organizations to explore opportunities that they may not have otherwise considered.
What is Gore Mutual doing to be a leader in the space?
As a mutual insurer, the notion of mutual benefit is part of our DNA. Being a leader in the DEI space, being an ally and helping to advance the causes of employees and the communities they represent is a part of who we are at Gore Mutual. To create spaces that are safe and inclusive environments, we need to spend time reflecting on our past and learning how we can move forward to a more equitable future. For us, key moments have included reflection on our past and present relationships with Indigenous communities, Black History Month, Pride Month and International Women’s Day. It’s a small step—one we take seriously—and will be a continued focus moving forward.
As part of the People strategy, how does Gore Mutual provide all people with fair opportunities to attain their full potential?
Culture is what helps people feel a sense of belonging to an organization. At Gore Mutual, we’re focused on putting employee wellness and success at the core of everything we do. When employees feel included, valued and heard, they’ll be successful.
Throughout the pandemic and our Next Horizon transformation, we’ve been stressing the importance of work-life balance, encouraging employees to take breaks and reach out when they need additional support. This has always been part of our culture and always will be. We’re successful as a company because of the incredible talent we have.
We’re all in different places along the journey of learning and doing better in terms of supporting employees, colleagues, customers. Do you have any tips for an employee, brokerage or customer looking to get started or further their allyship to build a better industry for everyone?
I would say simply – just start. Listen, reflect, learn and share. From there, become educated about the histories and tribulations of marginalized communities and then use the power we hold to change the situation.
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