Diversity in Action: Allstate Insurance
Why their employees really are in 'good hands'
Allstate delivers some of the best commercials television has to offer, but what you may not learn from spokesman Dennis Haysbert (despite his trademark voice) or even the metaphoric Mayhem character, is that the insurance company -- the largest publicly held personal lines insurer in America -- has long been recognized as one of the most diverse companies in the country.
In 2004, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America honored Allstate for its sustained commitment to diversity, citing its involvement with the launch of BGCA's Youth for Unity programming. In 2009, Working Mother magazine ranked it among the "Best Companies for Multicultural Women" (for the sixth consecutive time), and last year, Diversity Inc. moved Allstate up six spots to No. 37 in its annual "Top 50 Companies for Diversity" list, noting its resource groups and online communities that provide opportunities for networking, mentoring, and talent development.
Allstate boasts a of minority workforce of more than 31 percent (21 percent in management positions, and 17 percent as highest-level executives). Loop 21 spoke to Suzanne Sinclair, Allstate's director of talent acquisition, about the company's diversity achievements and what it looks for in new hires.
Loop 21: What are the top three qualities you look for in candidates?
Suzanne Sinclair: Our employees have a variety of interests and perspectives, but we all carry three essential qualities that help drive our success as an organization: enthusiasm for what we do, a passion for helping people, and the ability to be collaborative team players. Functional expertise and skills are required for each specific role, but Allstate’s core is to be customer-centric in everything we do.
Loop 21: Are there particular skills that you're looking for?
SS: Skills vary based on job specifications, but we are always looking for individuals who are bilingual and have project management and technical skills.
Loop 21: Your company has a history of being recognized as a diversity leader. How has the company achieved this distinction?
SS: For many decades, Allstate has been committed to diversity, and that goes beyond some of the clinical definitions of "individuals of color" to really being able to value people from all walks of life. It's a direct reflection of the way that we view our customer base, which is extraordinarily diverse as well. We've made investments in organizations, in relationships with our employees, and with our customers that directly reflect our commitment to being an organization that is inclusively diverse.
Loop 21: Women make up a significant portion of the work force and a growing proportion of leadership positions. How has Allstate adopted gender diversity?
SS: We've won awards for our advancement and representation of women at the senior level and throughout the organization, but there's also a lot of mentorship that goes on here. It's a real personal commitment that a lot of managers field to their team. And it really becomes a pivotal point for employees to get the insight, development, and the opportunities they need to grow as professionals and to pursue their career goals. The mentorship component is not even about gender or race. You can be a male and still receive the guidance and nurturing that you need to advance yourself.
Loop 21: Are you hiring now for particular divisions? If so, which ones?
SS: We currently have more than 1,000 positions available throughout the U.S. with a large concentration in our Northbrook, Illinois, corporate headquarters. We are looking for a wide variety of talent, including technology operations and application development, analytical and actuary, marketing consultants, investments, customer call center representatives, claims processors, and claims adjusters.
Loop 21: Do you have specific programs that help minority employees to move up through the ranks?
SS: Allstate’s nine Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are vital for improving employee engagement and in being a business lever for our diversity strategy. Through programs and events targeted to specific developmental needs and interests, ERGs encourage members to grow professionally, as well as personally, and their membership has grown to more than 30 percent over prior year. In addition to our ERGs, Allstate also tracks employee development plans and succession plans to ensure that minorities participate in and benefit from leadership and management training.