To advance RGA’s long-standing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Larnise Boain has been appointed Vice President, DEI. Following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Michelle King, Vice President, Talent Acquisition, Larnise will lead efforts to evolve RGA workplaces, and the communities in which RGA has a presence, into more diverse and inclusive environments. In this Inside RGA Q&A, she shares what DEI means to her, what DEI issues the (re)insurance industry should focus on, and her short- and long-term goals.
What does DEI mean to you?
For me, DEI is a deeply personal journey, as well as a professional calling. I recently stumbled upon a quote by Persian poet Rumi that best describes the journey:
Yesterday I was clever,
So I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise,
So I am changing myself.”
It starts with self-discovery and self-understanding, followed by seeking to create a better environment and world around us. I aspire to encourage others to change their perspective as we all work together to create a better, more equitable world.
How does DEI success translate to business success?
Successful DEI practices create more engaging workplace environments, stronger client relationships, and higher employee retention. As a result, diverse companies tend to be more profitable. Our goal is to expand solutions and offerings to clients around the world – the success of which depends on the contribution of highly talented and diverse employees.
By fostering an environment where our employees feel comfortable and confident in sharing diverse perspectives, RGA inspires new ideas and creative solutions. The innovative products and services that we produce as a result enable our clients to provide financial protection to more people. We share some really inspiring examples of innovation in our inaugural Environmental, Sustainability, and Governance (ESG) report. It’s exciting to be part of an organization that produces meaningful work that pushes the envelope, which is fueled by the diversity of our workforce.
What can leaders do to help improve a company's culture to ensure it is an inclusive workplace?
Inclusivity is about creating a psychologically safe work culture where everyone can fully participate, where employees are encouraged and supported to reach their full potential, and where they're valued for their differences.
Leaders must provide equitable development, exposure, and growth opportunities, then create a space that allows employees to make meaningful contributions within their teams, across functions, and across regions. This starts by listening to every voice and learning about what’s important to each team member. Encouraging input from the quieter people in the room is particularly important, so is affirming those whose ideas may be overlooked. Being more inclusive requires everyone, not just leaders, to be more intentional when interacting with each other.
What DEI issues should the (re)insurance industry invest in?
There is a need for greater ambition around DEI. The (re)insurance industry needs to be creative and purposeful and to start disrupting the status quo. Some organizations may say that they're already diverse. To that, I'd ask: Can an organization ever become too diverse, equitable, or inclusive? Let's not become complacent, our work in this area is far from finished.
At RGA, we create solutions that allow our business, our regions, our clients, and their customers to grow. Every day we work to fulfill our purpose to make financial protection accessible to all, and it’s only possible with highly talented, diverse workforce members.
What are your short-term and long-term goals in your new role at RGA?
My short-term focus is on listening carefully to understand what DEI means to RGA employees around the globe – to understand all perspectives from different backgrounds. DEI issues differ by region and country, and therefore we need a comprehensive overview – DEI at RGA can’t be one worldview. Next, I'll work to strengthen accountability for DEI and establish a structure and focus for our efforts.
My long-term vision is to make RGA the best workplace for every employee. People should feel that they belong here and that they have a voice. They should know that the company is investing in them and giving them a place to build a fulfilling career.
Additionally, I want to leverage our industry position to help build a better, more equitable society through community engagement and other contributions, such as creating products and solutions that allow us to fulfill our purpose.
I know what it feels like to not belong, but I belong at RGA. I also know that there are employees who may not feel the same way, and my greatest ambition is to fix that.