Dawn Frazier-Bohnert is EVP and Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Officer with Liberty Mutual Insurance—a role she has held since 2013. In her role, she is responsible for leading the design, development, and implementation of Liberty Mutual’s global DEI strategy and programs.
It’s a big job and is as rewarding as it is challenging.
Frazier-Bohnert’s comfort level with diversity and cultural dexterity is one that was nurtured from a very young age. As the child of parents serving in the Air Force, she moved around a lot. And while those first days in a new school could be very challenging, she says, “The constant relocation and navigation of different cultures provided quick lessons in cultural dexterity, or an understanding of cultural differences.”
These experiences, she says, helped her develop “a lifelong passion to help people of different backgrounds find their connection points” and, ultimately, “embark on a career in human resources and ultimately, diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Seeing the Need and Making a Difference
When Frazier-Bohnert came to Liberty Mutual, she says, “I saw the need for a holistic DEI strategy that would reach all areas of the business. Since then, we’ve been building a strong DEI foundation, with a well-rounded approach to promoting DEI skills and capability across the organization and incorporating DEI into how we work with customers and colleagues.”
In 2020, she and the company’s CEO, David Long, announced a new DEI multiyear plan with a series of actions to further increase DEI. The plan includes goals to increase representation of women and people of color at all levels in the United States by 2025, she notes. It also ensures that these goals progress over the long term. “Delivering on these goals means that about one-third of all employees will be people of color and over half will be women.”
Filling the Pipeline
It all starts with getting a diverse pool of employees into the organization in the first place. That’s not something that occurs by chance—it must be approached purposefully.
“DEI is integrated at every part of our business, including hiring, through a variety of programs,” says Frazier-Bohnert. Examples include:
- The Campus Recruiting team, which leverages all available talent pools to source candidates at colleges/universities, including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs);
- External partnerships, such as “Hiring Our Heroes,” dedicated to hiring talent of all backgrounds; and
- The use of a variety of databases that reach talent of all backgrounds and help to ensure candidates have a diverse interview panel.
In addition, Liberty Mutual’s wide range of employee resource groups (ERGs) actively partner with recruiting to refer external talent.
A Wide Range of ERGs
One important element of Liberty Mutual’s DEI activities is its wide range of ERGs, which offer an opportunity for employees with varied backgrounds to come together to share experiences and perspectives and gain a better understanding of and appreciation for others.
“Employee Resource Groups are an important aspect of our DEI strategy as they bring employees together while strengthening our inclusive workplace,” Frazier-Bohnert says. “Allies — or employees who support groups other than their own — are a critical component of each ERG.”
Liberty Mutual’s ERGs include:
- Amigos@Liberty + Allies—Dedicated to connecting, supporting, and developing Liberty Mutual Insurance Group’s Hispanic/Latino community.
- LEAAP@Liberty + Allies—Leading and empowering Asian and ally professionals about Asian cultural strengths and positive impacts in business.
- LEADA@Liberty + Allies—Employees of African descent and allies fosters building, growing, and learning together with ongoing support and professional development.
- Pride@Liberty + Allies—Promotes an inclusive working environment where LGBTQ+ employees and allies feel a sense of community and opportunity.
- WE@Liberty + Allies—Attracts, empowers, and elevates women through equitable opportunities, increasing individual and organizational success.
- Valor@Liberty + Allies—Seeks to engage and empower our military, veterans, and ally community through building a strong internal network that fosters personal and professional growth.
- Able@Liberty + Allies—Just launched in April 2021 and promotes an inclusive and equitable culture that fosters awareness, understanding, and support for people with disabilities, caregivers, and family members.
But while serving an important role, ERGs are just one component of the holistic approach Frazier-Bohnert and Liberty Mutual have taken with their DEI efforts.
Doing Things Differently
Liberty Mutual’s approach to DEI is unique in a number of ways. One of these, says Frazier-Bohnert, is its “Inclusion in Action eLearning” video series, which “includes nine inclusive communication exercises that teach employees how to connect in an authentic and honest way.” The videos “provide practical advice and touch on a range of skills from being trustworthy to taking a step back, to ‘trying on’ a different person’s perspective.”
These tools, says Frazier-Bohnert, “have helped strengthen our inclusive environment, showing employees how to take action and build a more equitable workplace.” Based on its own success with the series, Liberty Mutual has made the video series commercially available, with all proceeds going to a nonprofit focused on youth development.
Another example is Liberty Mutual’s “Men as Allies” initiative, which was launched in 2017 to expand gender collaboration skills. “The group’s goal is to ensure men have the resources they need to develop gender awareness skills and collaborate effectively with their female colleagues,” Frazier-Bohnert says. “The focus is now expanding to allyship across race and ethnicity and other dimensions of diversity.”
Liberty Mutual has also invested in supporting its C-suite and other executives with DEI coaches. “What started as a pilot three years ago has become part of our structure and I believe has accelerated our progress,” Frazier-Bohnert says.
DEI: Working Together to Support a Diverse Workforce
Diversity isn’t enough without equity, and equity isn’t enough without inclusion. None of these elements can stand alone, adds Frazier-Bohnert. “To truly support a diverse workforce, you need diversity, equity and inclusion all working in tandem,” she says. “You can bring together a high-performing, diverse team but without giving all employees a sense of belonging and valuing their unique contributions, you’re not fully leveraging those diverse perspectives and talents.”
Recognizing this, she adds that in 2020, Liberty Mutual expanded the name of its Global Office of D&I to include equity. “The idea of equity is not new to Liberty’s DEI department or their strategy, but naming it is an important reminder that D&I is not limited to certain groups of employees. Diversity is about all of us and equity is for all of us.”
Liberty Mutual is working to ensure equity and inclusion for all employees to fully leverage the wealth of our unique backgrounds, strengths, and experiences.
And, with Frazier-Bohnert’s leadership, they’re doing it holistically.