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Survey seeks opportunities for growth between insurance companies and diverse businesses

By McKenzie Jackson/California Black Media

California’s African-American-owned businesses are among a group of corporations that the California Department of Insurance (CID) would like to see have a bigger stake in the Golden State’s $257 billion insurance industry.

During the Diversity Task Force meeting held Monday CID Commissioner Dave Jones said his office is focused on finding ways to increase diversity in procurement and governing boards within the insurance industry.

“I am talking in particular about women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and [disabled] veteran-owned businesses “who typically want a chance to have an opportunity to compete,” he said., To know where those opportunities are, and to have an opportunity to build their businesses for their families, for their communities, and for their employees.”

In an effort to do this, next month the CID will be administering the 2015 Insurer Supplier Diversity Survey, which will require the state’s top premium issuing insurance companies to report their procurement efforts with Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Women Business Enterprises (WBEs), and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBEs). Two years ago, the bi-annual survey found that in 2012, 207 insurance companies awarded 1,300 contracts worth $930 million to businesses owned by members of those subgroups. Sixty-six of those enterprises were headed by African Americans.

Jones, who has been Insurance Commissioner since 2011, said California, which has the largest insurance market in the country, is home to one-fifth of the nation’s minority-owned businesses and 1.1 million women-owned corporations; the highest numbers tops in America. However, he said, more cooperation is needed between those businesses and insurance giants such Allstate, Farmers Insurance, and Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.

“What a tremendous opportunity that would be to bring these two segments of our economy together,” he said.

During the two hour meeting, Jones and Naveen Habib, one of CID coordinator’s for the Insurance Diversity Initiative, went through a draft of the two-part diversity survey. Jones also introduced the 2015-2016 Insurance Diversity Task Force, a 15-member body composed of economic and legal specialists from across the state. The group is charged with making recommendations for bolstering the number of MBEs, WBEs, and DVBEs that partner with an industry that is vital to how businesses in California operate and how families and communities make sure their health and safety needs are addressed.

Jones said all the committee members share the common goal of striving to create greater diversity in the insurance trade.

 

“I am confident the wide array of expertise our new Task Force members bring will benefit our work in meeting these goals,” he said.

 

Task Force members and other businesspersons and insurance reps listened to the meeting by phone and chimed in as Habib went over the survey’s six-point questionnaire and survey chart.

The questionnaire asks insurance companies if they have a supplier diversity policy statement, a supplier diversity program, conduct outreach specifically to diverse businesses, set internal targets or goals in regards to its supplier diversity statement, and the name and contact information for their supplier diversity operations.

 

The chart features tables that divide the total amount of funds companies reveal they spent on WBEs, MBEs, and DVBEs. The chart also features headings that allow companies to pinpoint exactly what type of minority businesses won contract benefits. The headings include “Advertising/Marketing,” “Financial/Investment Services,” “Claims Services,” “Facilities,” “Human Resources,” “Information Technology,” “Office Supplies,” “Print Services,” “Professional Services,” “Telecom” “Real Estate,” “Travel/Entertainment,” and “Other.”

 

“We have been working very hard to make improvements on the survey,” said Habib.

 

Like the 2013 survey, this year’s survey will be sent to insurance companies that wrote premiums of $100 million or more. Two years, ago the survey revealed that out of the $241 million that went towards MBEs, African-American-owned businesses received the third lowest amount. Black businesses finished ahead of Native American-owned businesses and multi-ethnic-owned corporations, but finished below the dollars that went towards businesses categorized as owned by Other/Unknown (63.3 percent), Hispanic (16.6 percent), and Asian Pacific Islander (11.9 percent).

 

Task Force member Janice Brown, the owner and founder of San Diego-based Brown Law Group, said a number of insurance firms are part of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) and that they spend funds in legal expenses with many minority or women-ran law groups.

 

“I do think there is an opportunity to cross reference the people and the organizations that are a part of NAMWOLF with this initiative,” she said. “If corporations and organizations are spending money on outside counsel with diverse and women-owned companies they are known to have strong diversity initiative programs.”

 

Jones said there is a lot of opportunity for growth due to the huge economic engine the insurance business is in California.

 

“I think we are making good progress,” he said. “That is going to be the job of the new task force to focus on how we grow from this. We have gotten good feedback from insurance companies.”

What It Do With the LUE: Our City, San Bernardino

What it do with the LUE! Our city is what it Do. The Dark Clouds! Just as a thunderstorm brings forth clouds filled with precipitation which brings forth rain, hail, sleet, and snow, our city is covered with clouds bringing forth HATE, PAIN, VIOLENCE, and MURDER. In the words of legendary R&B singer and song writer Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On and Mercy Mercy Me”?    “What’s going on in the Inland Empire, what’s going on in San Bernardino, what’s going on in the homes and the schools?”

Was Marvin Gaye a modern day prophet during his time or Nah? Our city has suffered the loss of several lives due to violence. There used to be a time when a good old fashioned one-on-one fist fight would do. Those days are long gone. We’re living in an era where the use of weapons and firearms seem to be the answer. We’re living in an era where it’s nothing to take a person’s life and not blink twice. So much blood is being splattered on the very streets our children walk up and down every day. The young are dying right before our very eyes.

Is this Biblical? Is this the handwriting on the wall? Our ancestors endured much so we can have more. When I say more, I mean more opportunities to a bright future. Please don’t tell me their struggle was in vain. What will it take for us to unite and fight for our future generation to come. I know I’m not alone when I say, “Peace Be still”. Just as Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream, so do I.

I dream that someday, and someday soon, we can see ourselves in each other. That we can walk hand in hand with our own. We need the leaders and when I say leaders, I’m not speaking to those sitting in a suit behind a desk. I’m referring to those street leaders. The ones that really have the influence on the streets, the ones our sons and daughters emulate. We need those individuals to come to the table and HELP HEAL THE LAND.

This Saturday a community forum is being held to understand what’s happening. This forum is a platform for the community to cry out. Please come out to S.O.S., State of San Bernardino. The event is hosted by “United Nations of Consciousness” and sponsored by several other community entities. Let your voice be known! This is ya’ girl LUE and our town is what it do!

Music Changing Lives Celebrates 17 Years of Giving Youth Hope in Music, Arts

Students and Staff at MCL

REDLANDS, CA- On  Friday, April 10, Music Changing Lives will host their “Changing Lives Dinner Celebration,” a festive dinner that will help raise funds to benefit music and art enrichment programs for at-risk youth in our community. The event will take place at Mu Restaurant located at 309 W. State Street in Redlands at 6 p.m.

The event will be filled with delicious food, music, silent auctions, and entertainment. When members RSVP for the dinner, they will receive a personalized invitation with a puzzle piece.  The puzzle piece carries a symbolic meaning, as each piece signifies a person and their contribution to keep music and art alive and accessible to the children and youth in our community.  At the end of the night, all attendees will put their pieces together to form the Music Changing Lives puzzle. This will be a symbolic moment and represents how important each contribution truly is to the MCL program.

Individuals interested in attending the Changing Lives Dinner Celebration can purchase early bird tickets for only $40 per person by April 5th.  After that date, tickets will be sold at $60 per person. To RSVP or for general event information contact Vanessa Vizard at (951) 533-6180 or email Vanessa@vizardpr.com.