One Year In—CABIP

Ingrid Wilson, Director, Governance & Audit, CABIP

The vision for Canadian Association of Black Insurance Professionals (CABIP) started when Sheldon Williams, Chair & Co-Founder and Karen Rowe were discussing the elephant in the room. Or, rather discussing how uncomfortable it is to be the only Black person in the room, or the uncomfortable silence that follows when you walk into the room. It was 2020, and it was clear that the lack of diversity at industry functions was a problem. Sheldon and Karen weren’t the only ones talking, and Black professionals across the insurance industry were sharing similar experiences. 

Change was needed and we—as a Black community—needed to become change agents in the insurance industry.

Soon after the death of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and countless other Black people around the world, the dialogue took a new direction. Sheldon called Richard McGee, Director, Membership & Co-Founder. They in turn called Dionne Bowers, Vice-Chair & Co-Founder and soon they were developing a Black-led organization designed to advocate for representation, inclusion, and advancement of Black insurance professionals within the Canadian insurance industry. They were building CABIP.

Because of the conversations that were happening globally with the Black Lives Matter movement, we captured an audience who wasn’t necessarily paying attention prior to the pandemic. This helped make some pieces that would have been more difficult move along more easily. We came up with the idea to create a non-profit organization to address the underrepresentation gap within the industry. We found talented people to sit on the Board and CABIP’s Formation team, and we built an organization focused on sustainable change within this industry at a time when social injustice was rampant. 

We have been intentional to demonstrate what’s important to us including ensuring that there are voices at the table and that equity is at the forefront in all we do. Representation and inclusion are extremely important to this association, and we are making sure that the next generation of insurance professionals knows that representation matters. Change is on the horizon. In the last year, we have:

Focused on our members, providing several virtual professional development webinars directly through CABIP 

Curated and facilitated several webinars through other venues and events, including with IBAO, where we created and facilitated the Getting Started with DEI e-learning course

Introduced our townhalls, which in turn introduced the community to CABIP and highlighted topics of concern to our community, such as Health Equity and Mental Health Stigma in Black Communities

Organized network events, which provided platforms for Black Insurance professionals to meet with sponsors and partners, building relationships while giving back to our communities

For 2023, we are curating a roster of insurance, equity and inclusion professional development and leadership webinars, which will be announced in the next couple of months. Mentorship— especially within the Black community and the Insurance industry—is imperative. Representation is everything. 

We are extremely grateful for the support and partnership from our sponsors, who have joined us on the journey towards systemic change towards equity and inclusion for Black Insurance professionals. The CABIP family is grateful for every opportunity. Just think, if Sheldon and Karen hadn’t started a conversation about the awkward reality of being a Black person working in the industry, CABIP might not exist today. This journey is one that does not have an end date. We are here to be agents of change within the insurance industry and to those individuals and organizations who are willing to ride alongside us, we welcome you all.

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VOLUME 21 | ISSUE 6