Amica weaves diversity into corporate culture

OPEN MINDS: Ramona Royal, left, human resources officer, and Jill Andy, senior vice president, human resources, at Amica Mutual Insurance Co., work to stay ahead of diversity issues and promote a diverse culture at the company. / PBN PHOTO/DAVE HANSEN
OPEN MINDS: Ramona Royal, left, human resources officer, and Jill Andy, senior vice president, human resources, at Amica Mutual Insurance Co., work to stay ahead of diversity issues and promote a diverse culture at the company. / PBN PHOTO/DAVE HANSEN

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES Amica Mutual Insurance Co.

Diversity efforts at Amica Mutual Insurance Co. are long-term, multifaceted and evident in every level of the company.

But the auto, home and life insurance organization of 1,500 employees still looks to take its work further – even into areas previously considered uncomfortable territory for some.

Diversity is not a set of policies to be followed but a main tenet of the culture at Amica Mutual Insurance Co.

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It goes beyond merely accommodating race and gender differences but leveraging their strengths, as well as diversity of thought, which brings benefits all around, said Jill Andy, senior vice president of human resources.

“A strong diversity and inclusion program enhances creativity,” she said, paving the way for innovation, alternate solutions, high employee morale, stable retention and more-robust collaboration.

The Lincoln-based company has seen its diversity-hire numbers steadily increase since 2010. And it has a new, three-year strategy to make its commitment, according to Andy, “go even deeper.”

Ramona Royal, an Amica human resources officer, said the company communicates its diversity and inclusion stance via posters, articles and intranet banners at the company, as well as through more-formal training modules custom-created for employees and management.

Instead of one annual employee training, tailored segments are held at least four times a year, with the longest training session at 15 minutes.

“Team members need to spend time with customers,” said Andy; shorter learning segments mean they can get back to work sooner and likely better absorb the information presented. It also keeps diversity and inclusion at the forefront on a more regular basis.

“They let us know that when we talk about these issues, they learn something … it’s all high praise,” said Royal.

The culture of diversity not only helps foster collaboration, respect and inclusion at the workplace but it helps Amica representatives better serve its customers. Holiday knowledge is one example, said Royal.

A training module on global holidays presents information on holidays for the various world religions, reminding all at Amica that some holidays are festive and some more somber. It suggests asking co-workers about what holidays they celebrate. It offers insight into what customers might celebrate as well, and gives Amica tools to enhance service in an authentic way, better understanding what is important to its customers.

Its newest strategy plan is three years, as opposed to the previous five-year term, to allow for flexibility in a changing world, said Andy.

Getting out in front of relevant issues is one way Amica approaches diversity and inclusion.

Amica is now addressing the nonbinary classification for example, said Andy, beyond the traditionally used male and female categories.

“Someone can indicate ‘nonbinary,’ and that is something affecting our industry,” especially if the state adopts the practice. Some people didn’t know what nonbinary means, or the practice of using different pronouns, she said. “We get that out to employees before it takes effect.”

Amica knows that diversity and inclusion take time. It’s laid its foundation for inclusionary practices and continued to weave it into its everyday culture and build upon those values. Unconscious biases may exist, making diversity an area in which a layered approach spread out over time is preferable for long-lasting company success.

The company has a Diversity & Inclusion Committee with employees in various roles in different departments. Under its new three-year plan, company diversity ambassadors will be further empowered to promote initiatives, perhaps tailoring them to their particular branch or office, for example.

And Amica continues to seek ways to maximize the power of differences for its people and the company as a whole, beyond race, gender and sexual orientation.

“We try to think of it in the broadest way,” said Royal, “every possible nook and cranny. Years ago, it was race and gender. But now diversity is everything taken to the workplace that makes you, you. It’s what everyone brings to the table.”

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