on April 2, 2013 by admin in Insurance Industry, Comments (0)

New NAAIA Chicago Chapter President Assesses State of Diversity in Insurance …

Elliott Jones, president, NAAIA Chicago Chapter  managing director with Aon Risk SolutionsElliott Jones, president, NAAIA Chicago Chapter managing director with Aon Risk Solutions

With more than four decades of insurance experience under his belt, Elliott Jones has seen a lot of changes in the insurance industry, but none so personally important as the progress of diversity within the insurance community.

The managing director of Aon Risk Solutions’ Chicago service center has been a strong supporter of promoting African Americans in the industry. Most notably, he is a founding member of the National African American Insurance Association Chicago Chapter. Recently, Jones, 65, became president of that chapter after serving several years as the vice president.

Jones didn’t plan for a career in insurance. He went to Wheaton College on the ROTC program, and served two years as a first lieutenant in the Army. He spent a year in Vietnam and received the Bronze Star and Air Medal for his service.

After returning home, he landed a job at CNA as underwriter trainee. He spent eight years there before moving on to broker Alexander Alexander. He later joined Zurich, but missed the brokerage side of the business and returned to Alexander Alexander. After a stint with Willis, he joined Aon in 1999.


How far back does your association with NAIAA go and why did you help form the organization?

We tried to put a chapter together for eight years or more here in Chicago. I’ve been pretty much involved with it from its inception. I’ve always been a supporter of the organization because one of my objectives has always been to help minorities move-up in the insurance business.


What is NAIAA’s focus?

NAIAA’s focus is to help people move-up either in large organizations, as I have, or to help them as entrepreneurs. We always try to think of ways to provide support for them through seminars and speakers that we offer. It is a challenge, because all of us have day jobs, but nevertheless, that is the objective that we have.


Over the years, how inclusive has the insurance industry grown?

It has made a lot of progress. I started in 1971. At the time, at CNA, here in Chicago, there might have been only one other African American in the underwriter-training program. Now, in most of the major insurance companies, you have African American regional managers and, at a few companies, they have been the top guy. From the insurance-company standpoint, we’ve seen a lot of progress.

On the brokerage side, there has been a fair amount of progress as well, but I’d like to see a little bit more. But I think there has been a lot more progress because there’s always been a limited number of [African Americans] in certain positions, and I’ve seen an increase in that over the years.

What I have been very impressed with over the years is the number of independent agents who have their own insurance agencies. When I was coming up, I could only think of one—there might have been others—but I can only think of one African American agency in Chicago. Today, there are a lot more.


Do you feel the insurance industry is doing everything it can to bring minorities into the industry, or at least raise it as a career among minorities?

I don’t think they have done as much as they could do, and NAIAA wants to raise the consciousness of people who are not in the insurance industry—the young people—to get involved with it.


What should they be doing?

The major brokerage firms and insurance carriers are where individuals can get the best training. They should be reaching out to historically black colleges and universities and recruit there and get into the industry. But more importantly, there needs to be more support within the corporation. One of the key things to success in our business is mentorship and the relationships you have with people.

It is just like anyone else, if you hire somebody and you have someone looking out for them as a mentor, they will be highly successful. I think that is where the insurance industry has fallen down—with the follow-through.

I think this is true for anyone coming into this industry, but it is worse for minorities. At NAIAA we have speakers discussing how to mentor and develop business relationships.


Does NAIAA need to address bringing more African American women into the industry differently?

There might need to be a different focus and we might need some programs that focus on their specific needs. Like much of America, there are not a lot African American women in the best corporate positions. We probably have to work harder to help African American women move up, the same as for any woman. I don’t know what for sure, but to be honest, I see us needing to do something different for African American women, because I see them having a little bit of a different challenge.


Has the purpose of NAIAA changed at all over the years?

I don’t think so. We are reaching out to other minority groups on the national level. There has been synergy with CPCU, where we do some joint meetings in Chicago. What we have not done—and what we would like to do—is focus more on governmental issues. On the national level, they have done quite a bit, but we have not done as much on the local level and our members want to be more involved at the state level.


What would you like to accomplish over you term as president?

I would like to see the chapter grow from about 50 members today to close to 100. I don’t think I’ll get there during my term, but I’d like us to get on the road to that. I would also like to see more young people—people in their 30s who have established businesses—into our organization and get them more involved.

Article source: http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2013/04/01/new-naaia-chicago-chapter-president-assesses-state

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