Status Updates on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Areas of Focus
I want to provide an update on the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA’s) efforts to address the need for greater diversity in the actuarial profession and our organization. The steps and programs identified below describe work on the initial steps I outlined in my message to you June 17. These are not the only actions we will take and will not, by themselves, solve our diversity issues. However, they are a beginning and we believe will lead to improvement.
The SOA intends to provide periodic updates to members, candidates and staff on this work and this message is the first of those updates.
If any of you have thoughts or comments on the steps we’re taking, I would appreciate hearing from you. You can reach me and the SOA through firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEI Strategic Initiative - 2020
The SOA recently approved a new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) initiative to be added to our 2020 Strategic Initiatives and we will continue that initiative into 2021 and beyond. This initiative currently includes the following steps:
- Create a new Special Task Force on Personal Conduct to consider how personal conduct unrelated to a member’s professional activities should be addressed by the SOA. The Task Force has begun its discussions and we expect its work to be completed with recommendations to the SOA Board by year-end.
- Retaining outside assistance to help us plan the SOA’s longer-term DEI strategic initiative. They will also work with us to develop and lead training programs for staff and volunteers, advise on ways to ensure educational programs are free of unintended bias, advise on ways to attract more diverse candidates to the profession and retain these candidates once they become members, and help us determine the best ways to measure the results of our efforts. We expect to select a firm in the next few weeks.
- Adding staff DEI expert resources. Supporting our DEI efforts requires adding staff support, in addition to creating new volunteer roles. We are adding a full-time DEI staff lead to support existing and new DEI work.
- Adding a new SOA volunteer DEI team to provide oversight on behalf of the Board regarding the SOA’s DEI activities and progress. The charge for this team will be completed in the coming weeks and the volunteers will soon be appointed to begin their work.
- Publishing benchmark data on the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of our members and candidates to measure and report on our progress. We have recently launched an effort to ask members and candidates to help by updating their member profiles in My SOA to provide voluntary enhanced-demographic data (age, race, ethnicity, and gender among other categories). This information will help us prepare and report to the membership benchmark data and measure progress. We are also analyzing our existing data to establish some baseline measures where we have sufficient data. The International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA) has provided suggestions for additional analysis and tracking of exam progress of racially and culturally diverse candidates, which can support efforts to create programs to help these candidates be successful in their exams.
- Increase funding for IABA, the Organization of Latino Actuaries (OLA), The Actuarial Foundation (TAF), and other ongoing efforts such as an expansion of our exam fee waiver program to support racially and culturally diverse candidates, possible new scholarship programs, and other activities.
- Focused research activities on issues of racial disparities in health care, mortality experience, and other areas. While this work is just beginning, members can listen to a recent SOA Research Insights podcast with Pete Miller, ASA, MAAA, SOA Experience Studies Actuary, on “S. Population Mortality by Race.”Our research team has begun to discuss other ways the SOA can focus more of our research on issues of race and ethnicity in topic areas that actuaries address on an ongoing basis.
- Create new professional development opportunities for members on this topic. Some members may have attended the SOA’s “Diversity & Inclusion in Actuarial Employment” session held at the Virtual Health Meeting in June. We encourage all to attend sessions at the upcoming SOA 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting & Exhibit on overcoming unconscious bias and employing emotional intelligence to create diverse and inclusive teams. We intend to create new sessions on diversity issues at future sessions of our major meetings.
- Consider ways to increase the diversity of the SOA’s governance system. The Board’s Governance and Policy Committee has begun to discuss ways to increase diversity in our volunteer leadership structures and we’re looking forward to future recommendations from them.
- Regular communications with membership and candidates. We will provide updates to members and candidates via emails like this on a regular basis. In the meantime, we continue to develop and publish content about DEI issues in our magazine, The Actuary, and on our DEI web page on soa.org.
As I noted at the outset of this update, we are in the early stages of these efforts. We have a long way to go to produce the results we want. However, I think these efforts are an excellent start and I appreciate our volunteers and staff who are taking on these new initiatives. I welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions about these activities and I look forward to the SOA’s continuing reports on this important work in the coming months and years.
Andrew D. Rallis, FSA, MAAA
Society of Actuaries