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Multistate diversity survey initiative kicked off by California, 5 other jurisdictions


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Multistate diversity survey initiative kicked off by California, 5 other jurisdictions

Six U.S.jurisdictions will be collecting information from hundreds of insurance companieson the diversity of their governing boards and their vendors.

The CaliforniaDepartment of Insurance announced the initiative in a press release May 2, identifyingthe other jurisdictions as Minnesota; New York; Oregon; Washington state; and Washington,D.C. Insurance commissioners from those jurisdictions sent out letters to 600 insurerson May 2, notifying them of the survey, which will be rolled out June 1.

Floridahad signed up for theinitiative and confirmed its participation as late as April 28, but with the transitionto a new insurance commissioner, DavidAltmaier, on April 29, the state is opting out, for now, a Florida Officeof Insurance Regulation spokeswoman said. The office might revisit its participationat a later date, she said.

AlthoughCalifornia has administered a diversity and vendor survey program since 2012, thiswill be the first multistate effort. It will capture 75% of the nation's insurancemarket with its inclusion of insurers that have $300 million or more in premiumsnationally, along with any of the companies that have previously participated inthe survey, according to the department's press release. The survey will collectdata on insurers' inclusion of minority; women; disabled veterans; and lesbian,gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and business owners on their boards andamong their suppliers and contractors. The information will be made public, as Californiaresults are already on the department website.

Sincethe California Insurance Diversity Initiative began in 2012, insurer procurementfrom diverse suppliers has risen 63%, according to the press release.

"Minority,women, LGBT, and disabled veteran owned businesses are a big part of our nationaleconomy and they simply want the opportunity to compete fairly for business,"California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said. "Since we first launched[the survey], California's diverse business community has seen significant progress,as insurers have worked to open further the doors to diverse suppliers. I expectmy fellow commissioners to see the same in their respective states and nationally."

The U.S.Black Chambers, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the United StatesHispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Disabled Veteran Business Alliance all praisedthe multistate effort.

"This[survey effort] will help drive the proactive, intentional inclusion of all diversesectors in the leadership and supply chains of insurers from coast to coast, bringingvisibility and opportunity to many diverse business communities," stated JustinNelson, co-founder and president of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

"Thisinitiative encourages insurers to increase diversity on governing boards and withinsupplier networks," USBC President Ron Busby stated in the same release.

Justthis past weekend, insurance conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s chairman, WarrenBuffett, dismissed a shareholderquestion about the diversity of Berkshire's board at the company's annual meeting.Just three of the company's 12 board members are women. Buffett responded that Berkshire'sdirectors need be evaluated based on only three core qualities: business savvy,shareholder orientation and personal interest in Berkshire.

Adam Cancryn, who covered theBerkshire Hathaway annual meeting, contributed to this report.