Ensuring Your Company’s Disaster Relief Donations Are Well Received

With Hurricane Harvey’s effects being felt in Texas and Louisiana for some time to come, businesses may want to help victims by making corporate donations. Corporate decision-makers should carefully consider ways to contribute, since some recent post-disaster efforts have not helped as intended.

Depending on your industry and your company’s size, you may have access to supplies or a service that will be useful to victims and aid workers. The New York Times recently listed the local organizations that will accept certain donations. Your efforts can be coordinated with an accredited organization or the local government to determine whether your donations qualify.

Risk management and insurance professionals who would like to help Harvey victims directly can visit the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) IICF Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund. The fund was established in response to a surge of inquiries from its community as to how it can help. The fund has already received $80,000 in commitments, and the IICF will forward all contributions to local nonprofits assisting victims in the area, including the American Red Cross and specifically its Hurricane Harvey disaster fund.

During catastrophes, experts generally encourage these sorts of finance-based efforts in lieu of sending tangible items without a partnership with a local non-profit. Many organizations suggest that it is best to let the aid workers on the ground use their allocated funds to get necessity items like water, toiletries and food. In its Tips For Giving In Times Of Crisis page, CharityNavigator.org dissuades companies from sending supplies ad hoc:

“[This] type of philanthropy is simply not practical or efficient. Even if mail could get to an impacted region, no one is set up to receive these goods, much less organize and distribute them to the victims.”

It has been well documented that donations of tangible items – especially used ones – can cause unintended problems. Some never reach those in need and eventually wind up in landfills; and certain used clothes, like old shoes and Halloween costumes, might insult survivors.

According to Kansas disaster response coordinator Hollie Tapley, about 75% of donated goods will go to waste despite the donors’ good intentions. “Money is the best way because we know culturally what people need,” Tapley told Kansas State Network before Harvey hit Texas. “One group needs something totally different than another group.”

Blood donations are always in high demand following a disaster and national blood banks sometimes hold emergency drives to allocate blood to the affected areas, which might not have the resources to hold their own. If you are determined to reach the affected area, confirm those details with the donation center’s organizer. Bloodsource’s donation locations can be found on the group’s website. The Red Cross also provides information for potential donors online.

Is the Insurance Industry Improving for Women?

women in financial services

More than 70% of women in insurance believe the industry is making progress toward gender equality and, for the second year in a row, over two-thirds think their company is working to promote gender diversity, according to a new survey from the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation.

After the IICF Women in Insurance Global Conference, which brought together 650 insurance professionals, senior executive speakers, and CEOs to discuss how the industry can increase gender diversity in the workplace, the foundation polled attendees on the current reality of gender diversity and its evolution across the insurance industry.

Almost half of attendees agree that their company is working to promote gender diversity with another 19% strongly agreeing, but 24.5% disagreed, and 7.1% disagreed strongly. Biases in advancement (51%) and lack of opportunities for professional advancement (24.6%) remain the biggest barriers for women seeking leadership positions in their companies, respondents said. The industry may be making some progress on those issues, however, as the percentage of women who named “biases in advancement” and “lack of opportunities for professional advancement” as the chief barriers fell to 68% from 76% last year.

“As evidenced by the tremendous turnout of the 2015 Women in Insurance Global Conference and the engaging discussions it created, companies are clearly recognizing the need for a more gender inclusive workplace,” said Betsy Myatt, executive director of IICF’s Northeast Division.

But the findings make clear that insurance still lags far behind other sectors of the financial services industry in terms of support for women. Those surveyed – who were all there because they work in the insurance industry – said that insurance was the least supportive of advancing women to senior leadership, compared to accounting (47.8%), banking (26.1%) and investment services (14.1%).

“While there is still progress to be made toward achieving gender equality, the vast majority of survey respondents who have found a positive shift in corporate culture is certainly telling of the strides the insurance industry has made thus far,” said Bill Ross, CEO of IICF.

Some of the survey’s key insights include:

Which of the following is the greatest challenge women face in is ascending to positions of leadership within the insurance industry?

  1. Inflexible workplace standards: 7.4%
  2. Women don’t promote themselves enough or effectively: 30.1%
  3. Limited opportunities mobility up the corporate ladder: 39.4%
  4. Lack of C-suite sponsorship: 23.0%

Which of the following financial services sectors is the most supportive of the advancement of women to senior leadership.

  1. Banking: 26.1%
  2. Insurance: 12.0%
  3. Accounting: 47.8%
  4. Investment Services: 14.1%

Which of the following is the biggest barrier to entry (perceived or actual) for women seeking leadership positions in their company.

  1. Lack of opportunities for professional advancement: 24.6%
  2. Lack of desire from company leadership to appoint women to senior leadership roles: 17.0%
  3. Biases in advancement: 51.1%
  4. Desire to start a family: 14.1%

In what way do you believe gender equality has been most improved across the insurance industry?

  1. The establishment of mentorship programs: 14.2%
  2. Sponsoring executive networking opportunities: 24.0%
  3. More active recruitment of a gender-diverse workforce: 26.2%
  4. Shift in corporate culture: 35.6%

IICF Annual Benefit Dinner Draws Stars and Money for a Good Cause

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) held its annual benefit dinner last night at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The star-studded night for a good cause featured several speakers, including:

  • David Brinkman, chairman of the board for IICF
  • Paula Zhan, host and executive producer of “On the Case with Paula Zhan” and co-host of “NYC-ARTS”
  • Hank Watkins, president of Lloyd’s America, Inc.
  • Mark Teixeira, first baseman for the New York Yankees
  • Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president for baseball operations
  • Brian Duperreault, president and CEO of Marsh & McLennan Companies
  • Mike McGavick, CEO of XL Group

David Brinkman opened the evening with remarks about the foundation’s year of giving, noting that the IICF has __ 16 grants in the tri-state area in 2012 and was able to raise an astounding $50,000 to be given to the Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. “What the general public may not realize is that, in addition to claims paid, our industry is generous with philanthropy,” said Brinkman.

Paula Zhan entertained the crowd with stories of her years spent interviewing notable world figures, including Fidel Castro, Princess Diana and Pete Rose. On a more serious note, she explained how Alzheimer’s has affected her family and how, through her work with the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, she is helping to raise awareness for the dibilitating disease, which costs the U.S. more than $200 billion annually.

Hank Watkins took the stage to announce that the dinner raised more than $1.3 million. “With this night, we’re able to help thousands of people make their way through challenging times,” he said.

Mark Teixeira gave the crowd a good laugh by mentioning the Hurricane Sandy benefit concert happening at the same time as the IICF benefit dinner (and just a few blocks away). “If you guys want to spend $500 to see a bunch of aging stars, just go to a Yankees game.” Well done, Mr. Teixeira. Having captured the crowd’s attention, he talked about his foundation, DreamTeam25, which has partnered with Harlem RBI to “provide inner-city youth with opportunities to play, learn and grow using the power of teams to coach, teach and inspire youth to recognize their potential and realize their dreams,” he explained.

Joe Torre was welcomed by Yankees and Red Sox fans alike as he told the crowd about his Safe at Home Foundation, which educates to end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives. Torre explained how he witnessed his father’s physical abuse towards his mother and emotional abuse towards himself and his siblings. The experience inspired Torre and his wife to create the foundation in 2002.

Closing out the night was Mike McGavick of XL insurance — the honoree of the night. McGavick accepted the award on behalf of XL and reminded those in attendance that giving, and being a part of a community, is what life is about. “As Adam Smith asked, ‘How can self-interest be married to the communite’s interest?’ Or as David Hume said, ‘We must do well by others or we will eventually be harmed.’ Those ideas are perfectly merged. We must look to our community. Because of our [industry’s] peculiar focus on the nightmares in this world, we truly understand the pain and need that’s out there.”

Recap of the IICF Benefit Dinner

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the 4th annual Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) benefit dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria here in New York. It was a packed house with more than 800 in attendance. The speakers and the atmosphere (not to mention the food) were amazing!

The lineup for speakers included Ken Griffey, Jr., Mark Messier, Rudy Giuliani, Greg Case of Aon Corporation, Marice Greenberg of C.V Starr and David Brinkman of Aon Benfield. The sports stars were there to speak on behalf of the charitable organizations with which they are associated (The Boys & Girls Club of America for Griffey and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for Messier).

The 2010 dinner honoree was Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, who applauded the IICF and all companies within the insurance industry for donating so much time, effort and money to great causes. Guiliani kept the crowd in stitches with sports jabs at Griffey and Messier and NYC borough trash talk. But he also thanked the industry for its generosity.

“The insurance industry is an enormous part of the city,” Guiliani said. “The fact that you want to reach out and help so many people is what America is about.”

Last night’s event raised $1.1 million for charity from the more than 130 major insurance companies that support IICF. A great night for a good cause.