Avoiding bias in the insurance industry

Published: January 5, 2018

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



If you are 6ft 2in or taller and a man, you are in luck when pursuing a career in insurance. You are 9x more likely to become a company CEO than someone shorter than you or a woman. However, you may not really be there because you deserve to be as your height and gender are a major part in bias that is evident in the industry.

Speaking to 60 executives at a Bias in Insurance event co-hosted by Lockton and Beazley, Katherine Bryant discussed two types of bias, conscious and unconscious.

“Bias is a dirty word,” said Bryant, executive coach and founder of The Progress Partnership, a consultancy working within the insurance industry. “But it’s a completely normal part of being a human being.”

Conscious bias is based on previous interactions and impressions made during them. For example, only hiring people based on a preconceived criteria, such as if they have black hair. The good thing about conscious bias is you can think about it and address it.

Unconscious bias is trickier and is harder for insurance companies to stop. It is something that occurs naturally in all human beings, but makes it hard to form logical conclusions about people in the professional space.

“We need to work together, because it’s much easier to note unconscious bias in others than it is in ourselves,” Bryant explained.

“Anchoring is another common human tendency. It’s when people rely too heavily on the first piece of information [the anchor] when making a decision,” Bryant added.

“You can positively influence company culture and beat bias by opening your eyes, ears and mouth, and politely calling attention to it,” Bryant told the audience. “Together we can beat unconscious bias.”