MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Agency Inc. connects with communities it serves

A GOOD RESOURCE: MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Agency Inc. offers seven Diversity Business Resource networks to help promote inclusion within the office. Pictured, back row from left: Dani Mubarek, Tina Southiseng, Jim Farugia, Emily Morgan, Titus Her, Lyndalu Pieranunzi and Sarah Deede Alfieri. Front row from left: Venus Lanzot, Afua Akoto, Kandy Mimande and Hayley O’Donnell. / PBN PHOTO/DAVE HANSEN

PBN Diversity & Inclusion Awards 2019
INSURANCE SERVICES: MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Agency Inc.

AT ITS WARWICK headquarters, MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Agency Inc. aims to have its employees represent the diversity of its clients.

“We are only as strong as our talent,” MetLife Senior Vice President Darla Finchum said. “Our Diversity and Inclusion Groups give associates the opportunity to develop leadership skills and a chance to collaborate with their peers and leaders on culture changes. It also enables MetLife Auto & Home to connect more personally with the communities we serve.”

MetLife is one of the nation’s leading personal property and casualty insurance providers, insuring nearly 4 million automobiles and homes nationwide. For the 400 associates who work there, the company offers seven Diversity Business Resource networks – voluntary groups of associates aligned with a particular affinity, said Sarah Deede Alfieri, MetLife’s diversity and inclusion community leader.

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Among the networks are iRise for Rising Professionals at MetLife; GLAM for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Associates & Allies; MVET, focused on recruiting and helping military veterans; MetLife Diverse Abilities; the Women’s Business Network; and Families at MetLife, which promotes a supportive culture for members of working families.

‘We recognize the value of hiring and promoting people with disabilities and promoting a culture where associates feel empowered to reach their full potential.’
Sarah Deede Alfieri, MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Agency Inc. diversity and inclusion community leader

Even more important is how these teams work, both within their own networks and with each other.

“About four years ago, we created our Community Lead Team, bringing together individuals from each of our diversity and inclusion groups to align our efforts and take a holistic approach,” Alfieri said. “By doing this, we created one main channel of communication to ensure employees felt included and were aware of what is going on within MetLife and within the communities we represent.

“Instead of working in silos, our teams came together once a month to promote events and initiatives, with a goal to make all associates feel welcome to participate without the pressure of becoming a member of one or more groups.”

Everyone comes to the table, so to speak, including community and charitable leads, for development of all events, sponsorships and networking opportunities.

“For example, we participated in Rock Your Socks for World Down Syndrome Day. We encouraged associates to wear fun, brightly colored socks in support of raising awareness for Down syndrome,” Alfieri said. “This year, one of the employees brought in his son who has Down syndrome and had him participate in the event and vote on his favorite fun socks.”

The model, which has proved successful in Rhode Island, is being replicated and expanded to other MetLife sites nationwide, Alfieri said.

Finchum said the groups have helped create a shift in culture, from the ground up to leadership.

“I love that the faces of leaders are starting to look different and that there are a lot of really powerful proof points today highlighting that diverse leadership teams and board of directors really improve the results of a company,” she said. “I also appreciate how leaders are starting to – in a more holistic and more active way – sponsor other leaders that don’t always look like them. … My view is you have to continue to have an impact on the people you touch because it creates a ripple effect. … That’s how real change occurs.”

MetLife also has the size and resources to influence others. Senior Communications Specialist Megan Lemoi said leaders both coach and encourage diversity and gender equality among suppliers, as well as have tremendous leverage to require procurement teams to include diverse suppliers in requests for proposals.

Last year, MetLife had more than 600 diverse business partners, representing 19% of its total supplier spend.

“We recognize the value of hiring and promoting people with disabilities and promoting a culture where associates feel empowered to reach their full potential through inclusion, representation and access to essential resources in the workplace,” Alfieri said. “Creating a more inclusive workplace allows us to become stronger, more innovative and better at serving our customers every day.”

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