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The Standard Partners With Black Insurance Industry Collective to Increase Representation and Accelerate Advancement of Black Professionals

February 23, 2023

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Standard recently became a founding sponsor of the Black Insurance Industry Collective to increase inclusion and support leadership opportunities for Black employees while also helping positively reshape the future of the insurance industry.

“Whether you are a recent college graduate exploring career opportunities in the insurance industry or a mid-level professional seeking opportunities to lead, great careers rarely happen by accident,” said Dickson Kasamale, senior director of IT Finance at The Standard. “For Black professionals, having access to supportive industry networks, mentoring opportunities and training are critical enablers.”

A group of racially diverse insurance industry leaders gathered in 2020 to address the challenge of increasing representation within the industry for people of color. In 2019, the percentage of Black Americans in the insurance workforce was about 12.4%. Industry leaders created the BIIC to help Black professionals advance their careers and increase representation at leadership levels.

“This founding sponsorship helps create deeper inclusion for Black employees at The Standard and has the potential to diversify the leadership landscape across our industry,” said Susan Bruechner, vice president of human resources for The Standard. “It’s a big step forward on our DEI journey, and there is much more to come.”

The BIIC is focused on:

  • Addressing the unique cultural, mental, and psychological challenges encountered by Black professionals.
  • Exposing selected employees to the training and skills necessary for their continued career growth and advancement.
  • Equipping leaders with a development roadmap for their success within the industry.
  • Providing a collective forum for networking, support and developmental guidance for Black professionals.
  • Ensuring access to senior executives and other key leaders and allies.

BIIC accomplishes this through a tailored development program for emerging leaders, sponsorship and mentoring opportunities and educational webinars.

“To be in a space where I could hear from Black employees working at other companies across our industry was empowering,” said Demetra Fields, an IT technical advocate at The Standard, after attending a webinar. “It was especially meaningful to hear people of different generations talk about career challenges and opportunities.”

One of the BIIC’s signature initiatives is a four-day Executive Leadership Program designed specifically for Black professionals in the industry.

“I attended the BIIC leadership development program and was impressed by the opportunity to hear about experiences of others through case studies and special guest speakers,” said Vanessa Bennett, a disability benefits manager for The Standard. “The recognition that you’re not alone on this path is so important, and it was encouraging to meet people who have achieved high levels of success and to learn from their insights.”

About the Black Insurance Industry Collective

The BIIC is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization created to accelerate the advancement of Black professionals with the goal of increasing the representation of Black leaders at the mid-to-executive level in the insurance industry. Our vision is to support the development of Black talent in the insurance industry by providing educational opportunities, networking and training opportunities. It is the first industry-fueled effort solely dedicated to the development of Black professionals.

About The Standard

The Standard is a family of companies dedicated to helping customers achieve financial well-being and peace of mind. In business since 1906, we are a leading provider of financial protection products and services for employers and individuals. Our products include group and individual disability insurance, group life, dental and vision insurance, voluntary (employee-paid) benefits, absence management services, and retirement plans and annuities for employers and individuals. For more information about The Standard, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

The Standard is the marketing name for StanCorp Financial Group, Inc., and its subsidiaries: Standard Insurance Company, The Standard Life Insurance Company of New York, Standard Retirement Services, Inc., StanCorp Mortgage Investors, Inc., StanCorp Investment Advisers, Inc., StanCorp Real Estate, LLC, and StanCorp Equities, Inc.



Bob Speltz
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