NFP: Diversity & Inclusion Leader Sets High Bar for Global Insurance Broker

When Pam Wheeler joined NFP as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer in August of 2021, she envisioned unlimited potential.

After leading the WNBA Players Association, where she negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement in women’s professional sports, and consulting with NFL Operations on their diversity, equity, incision and belonging (DEIB) efforts, she took on a new challenge.

Pivoting to the insurance industry may have been an unexpected choice. But in a business traditionally dominated by white men, she recognized diversity needed to improve, and that she could be an influential agent of change. NFP’s commitment to DEIB and the potential to positively impact an industry attracted Wheeler. She believes her experience and perspective, leading by example within an organization committed to change, and the power of partnership can deliver the impact the industry needs.

“In some places, there is a need for progress but it’s not a priority. This wasn’t the case at NFP,” said Wheeler. “In every conversation, including with Doug Hammond, NFP’s Chairman and CEO, people expressed a genuine desire to improve and a willingness to make the investments required to drive it.” Setting the tone with NFP would be an important first step in making the difference the broader industry needed.

Wheeler’s first order of business? Make a statement about belonging. “Diversity, equity and inclusion are vital, but without a culture of belonging, your ability to attract and retain diverse talent will be limited.” Adding the B to DEI sent a clear message to current and future employees that NFP is a place where all employees are empowered to be their authentic selves, use their voice and have a seat at the table to make decisions.

From there, Wheeler turned her attention to working with leaders across NFP to establish DEIB as a business imperative. It was clear to her that NFP’s business objectives and DEIB were not as connected at they should be. “When DEIB is integrated with the business, and leaders fully understand how DEIB is an advantage in creating opportunities, connecting with new clients and elevating growth, DEIB gets the attention and advocacy it deserves.”

Through consistent communication, Wheeler is keeping DEIB top of mind and moving the needle. She’s sharing stories of how companies that prioritize DEIB set themselves apart and engaging colleagues to advance key projects, including partnering with NFP’s procurement leader to create a supplier diversity program. “Showing people the way, versus just telling them, changes behavior in meaningful and sustainable ways.”

Wheeler views measuring results as a critical element of her strategy. “A lot of organizations are reluctant to look at the data because of the story it may tell. I believe you must be honest about where you are and motivated to improve continuously no matter what the data shows.”

Wheeler knows achieving what she believes is possible will take time and engagement. She deployed a companywide DEIB assessment led by external experts to get a baseline of where NFP stands. This led her team to realign the DEIB Advisory Council, establishing guidelines and goals for advancement, evolve resource groups (now called Business Resource Groups) and add four more (for a total of eight). At every step, she has consistently created forums for employees to listen and learn from each other.

Wheeler embraces the accountability that comes with sharing one’s ideas, learnings and insights with peers. By connecting with other companies at various stages of their DEIB journey, as well as experts who provide advice in this area, NFP is being deliberate in soliciting feedback and gaining valuable insights that inform refinements. “We’re proud of the path we’re on and want others to be inspired by what we’re doing. But we never want to give the impression we have all the answers. We’re always learning and open to constructive feedback.”

After Wheeler’s first full year with NFP, momentum is strong and she’s moving ahead with a clear purpose. “We’re going to keep executing an enterprise-wide strategy to create DEIB systems and cultures that empower all NFP stakeholders to be successful.”

NFP is definitely where Pamela Wheeler belongs.

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