2021 Status Updates on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
I would like to share an update on the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA’s) ongoing efforts to address the need for greater diversity within the actuarial profession and our organization. As I mentioned in my inaugural speech as president, the Long-Term Growth Strategy and our response to systemic racism go hand in hand; strengthening our profession to face the challenges ahead while at the same time expanding our community to represent the demographics and the populations we serve. We alone cannot end structural racism, but I trust that you can see that we are serious about closing these gaps within our own profession and organization.
Last year, the SOA incorporated the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative to our overall Strategic Initiatives, which continues in 2021 and beyond. The following are updates on our DEI initiative:
- Established the DEI Committee (DEIC). This volunteer committee provides oversight on the progress of DEI activities, on behalf of the SOA Board. Created in 2020, DEIC works closely with the SOA leadership and staff on the key aspects of the DEI initiative. Since the start of the year, the DEIC has begun to develop a vision, strategic framework, goals, and actions to be presented to the SOA Board members in March for their feedback and insights.
- Added resources and advisory groups. Solskin Gómez-Krogh has been hired as the SOA’s new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lead. She is responsible for leading and implementing the SOA’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy in collaboration with SOA staff, volunteer leaders and external partners.
- We retained DEI experts inQUEST to support the development of the DEI strategic initiative and align with our longer-term strategy. They will also work with us to develop and lead training programs for staff and volunteers, among other efforts.
- We also created a Special Task Force on Personal Conduct, which is completing work exploring whether, and, if so, how personal conduct unrelated to a member’s professional activities should be addressed by the SOA. The Task Force will be reporting to the Board in March.
- Demonstrate leadership commitment. The SOA’s CEO Greg Heidrich signed the CEO Action for Diversity & InclusionTM pledge in support of the SOA’s DEI efforts, pledging to make our organization a trusting place to have complex conversations about diversity and inclusion. As part of the pledge, we are creating accountability systems within our organization to track our own progress and to share updates with other organizations who have signed the pledge in order to catalog effective programs and measurement practices.
- Publishing benchmark data on the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. In March, we will release demographic data of our members and candidates which will help us measure, report on our future progress, and develop target goals that support increasing diversity representation in the profession. This voluntary demographic data includes age, race, ethnicity, and gender among other categories.
- Increased funding for DEI efforts, including support of partner organizations and their programs. We have recently announced expansion of our exam fee reimbursement program to support racially and culturally diverse candidates, in collaboration with the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). This program now offers qualified candidates exam reimbursements and study material stipends for exams IFM, LTAM, and MAS-I, in addition to existing support for exams P and FM. We will also continue our support of The Actuarial Foundation (TAF), the International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA), and the Organization of Latino Actuaries (OLA), in addition to exploring new partners.
- Training staff and volunteers on DEI elements. We are designing and implementing new training for staff and key volunteers to recognize and understand DEI elements (i.e., unconscious bias, microaggressions, etc.), so that we can combat the effects of bias and racism wherever they may appear. Late last year, we brought in Dr. Michael D. Baran to provide our Board and key leaders with training on “subtle acts of exclusion.” We are working to foster an open, inclusive, and welcoming organization in all that we do.
- Reviewing the SOA's Education Pathway. InQuest is also working with us to review the content of the SOA’s educational programs to ensure materials we use are sensitive to DEI issues.
- Fostering professional development opportunities for members on DEI topics. Last year we hosted DEI sessions during the Health Meeting and the Virtual Annual Meeting & Exhibit. We plan to create new sessions on diversity issues at future sessions of our major meetings this year and beyond.
- Considering ways to increase diversity within the SOA’s governance system. The Board’s Governance and Policy Committee is exploring ways to increase diversity for our volunteer leadership structure, and they will provide us with recommendations for the future.
- Focused research activities on issues of racial disparities. We released research and podcasts on U.S. population mortality by race and mortality by socioeconomic category. We are continuing to identify and develop research on mortality and health care topics.
- Updating members and candidates. We will continue to update members and candidates on DEI developments, through email communications and The Actuary.
I welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions about these activities, and I look forward providing continued reports on this important work in the coming months. You can reach me and the SOA through firstname.lastname@example.org and through social media.
Roy Goldman, Ph.D., FSA, MAAA, CERA
Society of Actuaries