How to Be More Inclusive: 10 Steps Insurance Agents Can Take Starting Today
It’s no secret that diversity is key in sales and the workplace; in fact, diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors. But insurance agents often fly solo, which is why learning how to be more inclusive is so important. In such a competitive industry, insurance agents can’t afford to alienate potential clients over non-inclusive language and messaging. Aside from being bad for your bottom-line, it’s also disrespectful and shows an unwillingness to learn and grow.
So how can insurance agents be more inclusive?
Here are ten steps. But understand: this isn’t a definitive list. Consider our blog a starting point to becoming more inclusive and respectful in your communication and advertising, not just as a means to grow your business, but to ensure every client feels welcomed and included.
10 Steps for Insurance Agents to Be More Inclusive
- Get to Know Your Customer: As an insurance agent, you already know the importance of getting to know your customers in order to ensure you stay on top of their insurance needs. But when it comes to how to be more inclusive, you’re going to want to take that a step further. Get to know your customers as people with different life experiences than yours and never make assumptions. Try to better understand the challenges they face, their interests, their lifestyles, and more so that they can have the best possible experience interacting with you.
- Have a Diverse Team: If you work with a team, aim to have as much representation as possible. It’s tough to be authentically inclusive if you hire all the same type of people. Need more motivation? According to Harvard Business Review research, a team member that shares the same ethnicity as a client is 152% more likely than another team to understand that client, which translates to a better relationship (not to mention a better understanding of their insurance needs).
- Follow Accessibility Online Best Practices: If the web is the main part of your sales strategy (and it should be, in this day and age), then the accessibility of your website needs to be a focus. Why? Seven out of ten web users with disabilities will leave a website that isn’t accessible and nearly one in five people have a disability in the U.S. That’s a huge market to be potentially alienating from your website.
There are plenty of resources online that show you how to make your website more accessible, but some first steps include using high color contrast, captioning videos, using alt text for images, designing forms for accessibility, and more. For many, your website is their first impression of you and your services and you want it to be a positive experience.
- Use Inclusive Language: One of the first steps how to being more inclusive starts with using more inclusive language. It will take time and practice, but it’s worth the effort when it comes to making everyone feel included, from coworkers to clients. After all, as much as 25% of LGTBQ youth use neutral pronouns or a combination of pronouns to refer to themselves. Here are some ways to get started:
- Learn and use correct pronouns (and include yours in your email signature)
- Use spouse/partner instead of the gendered husband/wife or “you all” instead of “you guys”
- Opt for people-first language that focuses on the individual first, not the disability, like “people with disabilities” instead of “disabled people”
- Avoid jargon that might not make sense to other cultures and languages, like “piece of cake” and “knock it out of the park”, or that might be potentially harmful with historical and racial connotations, like “grandfathered in”, “pow wow” or “divide and conquer”
- Be mindful of ableist language, like “turning a blind eye” and “lame”
This list is by no means complete, but it’s a start. Learning how to be more inclusive will take time and you’ll probably make mistakes, and that’s okay as long as you apologize and take steps to do better next time.
- Alternative Modes of Contact: Making your content and your communication as accessible as possible is only going to help your business. Make sure you offer multiple ways to connect with you, including online, phone, and text, as well as making your content available in multiple forms, such as print, video, online, and more.
- Ask for Feedback: It’s not always easy getting feedback, but it’s worth it. Letting your clients tell you what they need or how you can do better is invaluable. Be sure to consider it carefully and act on it when possible to build trust and lifelong relationships with your clients.
- Build Trust: Speaking of trust, consider this: only 3% of people find sales reps to be trustworthy. Building trust with your colleagues and clients is crucial and it’s a key part of how to be more inclusive. Creating a safe space that allows for constructive feedback and for people to advocate for their needs, whether colleagues or clients, is important. Building trust takes time, but it’ll help you gain clients for life.
- Holidays: Here’s an easy way to be more inclusive: if you send out holiday cards/emails, make sure you’re acknowledging all holidays and not just those you celebrate.
- Planning Events: If you participate in any events or donate to charitable causes, consider choosing events and causes that celebrate inclusivity. It’s a great way to show your clients and colleagues that you truly do care about being more inclusive.
- Invest in Training: Whether it’s just you or you have a team, invest in continuous inclusivity training. The more you’re exposed to it, the more natural it will become. If you regularly invest in your own sales training, consider this: inclusivity training is a way to better understand all of your potential clients and avoid accidentally driving them away with non-inclusive messaging.
Key Takeaways: How to Be More Inclusive
When it comes to being more inclusive in sales, many miss the mark. In fact, multicultural consumers make up a whopping 40% of the U.S. population, but multicultural media spend makes up just 5.2% of total ad spending.
Whether or not you’re running advertisements as an insurance agent, you can learn how to be more inclusive in your messaging and in your communications with clients. It will take some time to retrain your thought process and constantly consider inclusivity, but it’s worth it. When Black and Hispanic people are more likely to not have health insurance than anyone else, it’s clear there’s work to be done.
Start taking steps today to be more inclusive and watch your business and your relationships with your clients improve significantly.