Changing Hearts and Minds
Joe Herbers

Changing Hearts and Minds

The Importance of Listening

Joe Herbers June 28, 2021 Posted in: Blog Posts, General
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd last year, Pinnacle decided to proactively support and advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at our company, in our profession and in our communities. Collectively, the sentiment of the firm was towards action rather than simply parroting words to make us feel good about ourselves.

The six commitments that arose from our discussions were:

  • PARTICIPATE in meaningful dialogue about race with our employees, clients, vendors and complementary service providers
  • EDUCATE our employees on issues related to racial justice
  • SUPPORT employee efforts to address racism
  • PARTNER with organizations that support activities to end systemic racism
  • STRENGTHEN our current efforts to increase diversity in the actuarial profession
  • ENGAGE in initiatives to increase diverse representation in our firm

In small group discussions sponsored by our recently-formed DEI Commission, the question arose of whether our country has changed in the past year. Many viewpoints followed, but my personal reaction was an unequivocal “Yes.” And I say this because we are all finally talking about issues of race and systemic racism.

Over the past year, media of all persuasions have been filled with viewpoints about racism – both intended and unintended. As individuals, many of us have been involved in small group and individual discussions with friends, family, colleagues and people on the street. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with certain viewpoints, it is important that we listen.

Early on in its existence, the Black Lives Matter movement was viewed skeptically by some because of a perceived connection to civil disturbance. But the fundamental question was fairly simple – “Do Black lives matter?” In a word, the answer is equally simple: “Yes.” Anyone that upholds the dignity of a human life must make no distinction between the color of one’s skin, one’s religious outlook, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristic. The evolution of one’s thinking about these weighty matters comes after actually listening to not only what is being said, but also the context from which it comes.

In the ‘60s, a sign commonly seen in the marches of those advocating civil rights was “I am a Man.” Regardless of one’s personal views of civil rights (at the time), the dignity of a human life should have been beyond reproach. But human nature does not always comport with the way things ought to be.

The changes I have seen in this past year are hopeful. Difficult and sometimes exhausting conversations are happening. But as we continue to listen, hearts and minds are changing, one person at a time. I know mine has.

Joe Herbers is Pinnacle’s Managing Principal and a Consulting Actuary with more than 30 years’ experience. His practice focuses on providing loss reserving and funding studies for a wide variety of entities – both traditional insurers and alternative markets. Joe’s specialties include policyholder-owned group captives, large-deductible and/or self-insured entities, lawyers’ professional liability carriers, Florida property writers and non-standard auto writers in the state of Illinois. Joe is an Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society (ACAS), a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA) and Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA). He served as long-time member and Chair of the American Academy of Actuaries Committee on Property Liability Financial Reporting (COPLFR), as well as several other professional committees. He is a regular speaker at industry events.
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