Dawn Frazier-Bohnert, Liberty Mutual Insurance, EVP, Global Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer, on laying the foundations for a successful global future where intersectionality is celebrated.
The HR Digest: What is your vision of diversity at Liberty Mutual?
Dawn Frazier-Bohnert: Liberty Mutual’s DEI journey began eight and a half years ago, and while our early years focused on awareness and action around diversity and inclusion, in 2020, we expanded our name to include equity. We define equity as fair treatment, access and opportunity for employees of all backgrounds and cultures. It includes identifying and removing possible institutional barriers that may prevent full opportunities and participation for all.
Although the idea of equity is not new to our department or our strategy, naming it served an important reminder that D&I is not limited to certain groups of employees. Diversity is about all of us and equity is for all of us. Equity is truly the link between the “D” and the “I,” so when we discuss our vision, all three must be represented.
Our vision is to create a diverse workforce with equitable opportunities and an inclusive environment for all.
Equity is truly the link between the “D” and the “I,” so when we discuss our vision, all three must be represented.
The HR Digest: Do you have any initiatives or areas you plan to focus on in the coming years?
In 2020, we announced a multi-year plan to increase DEI so everyone at Liberty can grow their careers. This plan includes goals to increase representation of women and people of color at all levels in the U.S. by 2025, as well as ensuring our goals progress over the long term. Delivering on these goals means that about one-third of all employees will be people of color and over half will be women.
Additionally, we want to maintain our strong position of hiring women across all levels of the organization, and we know we have more work to do among mid-level manager+ employees to have women more strongly represented.
Our employee data as of December 31, 2019 shows that we can do better to reflect the customers we serve and communities where we live and operate. We know companies with a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace have better outcomes, see stronger business growth and support the development of the local economy in the cities, states and countries where they operate. Liberty Mutual aspires to bring this to life, and we believe taking these actions will help us foster a place where people of all backgrounds want to work and thrive.
In addition to focusing on representation, we continue to drive the focus of inclusion to remind employees that diversity is about all of us. Everyone is needed to do this work.
The HR Digest: Working parents are juggling a lot. Many feel left out of company culture because they work part-time or have to leave on time. How can companies do more to provide a more supportive work culture that promotes a sense of belonging among this group?
At Liberty Mutual, our culture is centered around putting people first. That’s why prior to COVID we emphasized work-life balance and flexibility through a wide range of benefits. When COVID-19 began, we checked in with our employees via regular surveys to understand their greatest needs and concerns, so we could inform solutions. We found that our caregivers needed greater support, prompting us to introduce new programs, resources and policies to support their needs and well-being.
We introduced a special COVID time off code that employees could use instead of their regularly earned PTO – to provide employees with flexibility to balance work and family. We also provided free access to Care.com to help employees find care providers for kids, elderly parents and pets.
In addition, WE@Liberty, our Women and Allies Employee Resource Group, continues to provide impactful programming to support employees through this time. The group’s self-care series held over 150 virtual events on emotional well-being as well as eight live panel discussions centered on the personal and professional challenges of life in a COVID-19 world. Over 12,000 employees attended these events.
The HR Digest: How can companies commit to truer diversity and make progress without disenfranchising men and women who come from a privileged section of the society?
Diversity is about all of us, and to make progress you cannot have narrow view of it. It has to be defined widely and involve all groups–everyone. Companies need to create programing that addresses each dimension of diversity to increase awareness and accountability, keeping in mind intersectionality, that people are multi-dimensional.
Our Men as Allies’ initiative is a good example of bringing everyone into this work, which we started in 2015 to expand gender collaboration skills. The group’s goal is to ensure men have the resources they need to develop gender awareness and cultural dexterity skills and collaborate effectively with their female colleagues. The focus is now expanding to allyship across race and ethnicity and other dimensions of diversity.
The HR Digest: What’s next for Liberty Mutual?
Over the last ten months, we’ve begun implementing our multi-year DEI plan which includes a variety of new programs that allow us to recognize, appreciate and apply the unique backgrounds of each employee. As some of these programs reach the one-year mark, we have the opportunity to see how effective they are – what’s working, what’s not – and how we can apply these learnings into new programing.
One example of our new programing is the expansion of Self-ID and the ways in which our employees self-identify. We recognize that our employees have many dimensions of diversity, and that the intersection of those dimensions shape who they are. We launched expanded Self-ID options to include more dimensions of diversity, such as whether an employee identifies as transgender and their disability and Military/Veteran status. This will impact our ability to understand our employee population better and create programming that addresses their unique needs.
This past year we launched Able@Liberty, our newest ERG. Able@Liberty + Allies promotes an inclusive and equitable culture that fosters awareness, understanding and support for people with disabilities, caregivers and family members, so people of all abilities can thrive. This new ERG will help us expand our understanding of this dimension of diversity.
And we will continue to further embed DEI into our processes and practices, help our leaders practice their DEI skills, and increase their accountability for bringing the DEI Plan to life.