At Graham Company, we firmly believe that Actions Matter®, so we partnered with Dr. Lee Nunery, Founder and Principal of strategic advisory firm Plūs Ultré, to help strategize how to better incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) into the fabric of our organization.
Prior to starting Plūs Ultré, Dr. Nunery spent time in corporate banking, higher education, and with the NBA. A brilliant, multigenerational entrepreneur with an extremely strong work ethic, Dr. Nunery is now actively engaged as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion executive and consultant within the insurance industry, working with insurance carriers, agencies, and trade associations. In 2017, Dr. Nunery was asked by the National African American Insurance Association to write a study called The Journey of African-American Insurance Professionals, which he has presented many times to trade associations, carriers, small groups, and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
In the third episode of our podcast, Risk Playbook, Dr. Nunery kindly joined us for a discussion with our Vice Chairman, Mike Mitchell, to elaborate on DEI’s vital role in Risk Management and the benefits it provides to companies as a whole.
DEI as a Form of Risk Management
While most companies recognize that Risk Management is an inherent facet of the insurance industry, they may not realize that DEI can play an integral part in mitigating risk. Dr. Nunery considers DEI to be good business, and calls it is “as close to being riskless as possible.” In fact, he believes that not instituting a DEI policy poses a greater risk than instituting one. A major risk of not having a DEI policy is being left behind. He explains, “There's no one size that will fit all. But to do nothing, I think, opens you to some exposure that is unmeasurable, because your brand will become known as one that is not favorable to a changing demographic and with…more enlightened consumers.”
DEI Leads to Greater Chances of Success
Aside from decreasing risk, DEI can greatly contribute to a company’s success. By encouraging diversity and equity, and practicing inclusion, a company opens itself up to new ideas and innovation. This diversity of thought, or neuroplasticity, can in turn broaden its consumer base and increase a company’s chances of success.
According to Dr. Nunery, the NBA is a prime example of this success. Dr. Nunery worked as the league's first Vice President of HR and IT in the 1990s, and at the time, the league decided to globalize basketball. They started hiring more diverse, international players. Currently, international players comprise over 20% of the league. Dr. Nunery believes that the NBA can attribute its current success and growth in popularity in large part to its diversity efforts. He explains the business link between diversity and growth, saying, “If you look at the value of an NBA team, even over the last five years, it's gone up like two to three hundred percent. And that's because there's more sponsorship, advertising, marketing—not just because of the game, the game is beautiful—but because remember, now, in basketball, unlike football, you can see every facial expression, you can see every player, their color, their size. The camera angles are there to project on their names as they're running down the court. All of that has built value.” This diversity on the court draws a much larger audience, which increases growth and profit.
According to Dr. Nunery, a key to embracing DEI is to recognize differences, appreciate them, and then focus on commonalities and be willing to listen and change. He states, “If we're going to have inclusion, and we live in a world that is interdependent, then we've got to figure out what's different about each other, appreciate that, but also try to find commonalities. And let's go do good business. If we can do well, by doing good, then I think we've got the right remedy, the right formula.”
Click here to listen to the full podcast.