Diversity and Recruiting

This has long been a passion of mine, but now it’s something I’m taking on in an official capacity at work.

How do we as actuaries increase diversity at the recruiting level, particularly among marginalized communities with significant barriers to entry? Is your company doing anything innovative there?

I’m doing all the research I can, but actuarial is so unique of a career that not everything can be applied.

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I have recommended in the past for the actuarial orgs to partner with HBCUs. Those are geographically concentrated in the Southeast U.S., so not exactly workable for all companies geographically.

But in general, my recommendation is for companies to get involved with local colleges and organizations, and get in front of prospective entry-level folks.

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Personally, I think it has to start way before that. I found out about actuarial in HS. Actuaries need to go to the areas you want to incubate and plant the seeds of opportunities for those smart in math. Let them know of college opportunities, math scholarships, especially towards the underprivileged.

Athletes go to college knowing there is a chance they can come out the other side with great career opportunities and an education. For talented mathematicians the high may not be as high, but the odds of a solid job is much higher.

How many smart minority kids settle for a job as a cashier or bookkeeper just to bring in some instant cash, thinking they can’t seek something bigger.

The issue is no one company will reap the benefit, unless there is a way to actually sponsor kinds out of HS

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This kind of thing is not off the table, and is along the lines of what I’ve been noodling, along with the obvious recruiting efforts.

I agree with Patience in that these sorts of initiatives have to be longer-term in planning/execution. In this vein, I would suggest looking at (and reaching out to) The Actuarial Foundation has a lot of various resources to allow connection with junior high and high school students and provide a venue to share about the profession. (FTR, I was a primary contributor for the “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” curriculum.)

But another idea to consider is to sponsor/offer internships for college sophomores/juniors. If you are close to a college campus, you might also work on developing a presence with both the (actuarial) faculty and develop an “on-campus” internship program during the semester.

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Would probably need to get rid of local candidates only requirements imo.

New hires would need to have moving expenses taken care of as not everyone can afford to break a lease or make a down payment.

While we’re at it we could get rid of degree requirements too as we already have exams.

I have been a tutor through the Actuarial Foundation’s Math Motivators initiative. Where I am, this has targeted high school students in some of the poorer areas. We help them prep for the SAT. We don’t focus on the actuarial nature of what we do so much as helping them improve their math skills.

In addition, my company is a big supported if IABA and has made some large donations to HBCUs. We could be doing more, but it is a start.

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Does the foundation know the SAT results? Possibly target kids with over a certain score and push actuarial.

The kids I helped were shooting for scores around 450. Not really the target market for actuarial. I never got the scores from the kids I worked with as that was deemed to be private and unshareable. We were also not allowed to contact the students due to privacy issues as well.

Getting to the high school (or even younger) level, I highly recommend supporting this program:

Now, the guy who founded and runs this program (I know him from Mathcamp - he was my student, then became a staffer) has an academic/pure math background, so his thrust has been more about proof-y type stuff. That said, I’ve been to some of his events for students, where I was on a panel of people who had non-academic math-related jobs, so I told them about the insurance industry in general. One of the other panelists was a hedge fund person, and I don’t remember the third (we were at NYU doing the presentation).

One key parts of the program was identifying high potential students - initially in NYC, and then in Los Angeles, and now they’re trying for a national outreach. I think their student base may be great if you’re looking for students from underre

Anyway, I can make an intro to Dan Zaharapol if anybody is interested in working with the program.

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It’s important to make the profession cool.
(pause for effect, because web site doesn’t allow more than one line space)
So, your task is impossible.

Look, we don’t want it to be -too- cool.

There are loads of people out there who have the math/computing skills to compete against the rest of us. Even if we didn’t have 10+ exams people needed to get through (while getting paid pretty well in a job, and not acquiring debt while getting the credential, unlike grad/biz/medical/law school), most people don’t want to deal with regulations, tax, persnickety computer systems, etc.

When I taught the writing course for ActSci majors at UConn, I told them about all sorts of insurance things, and some said “This is kind of depressing.” Well, yes, we talk about major natural disasters, deaths, disability, fires, etc. It’s about loss.

I enjoy thinking about mortality trends, but first, that’s not too popular for most people, and second, even life actuaries are sitting there yelling at PowerPoint.

It can’t all be glamor.

But the bottomline that we should (and historically have) emphasize – the reason we’re in this profession:


At my last job we had to estimate the cost of COVID-19 for workers compensation. Listening to our chief actuary talk about how he was estimating the total number of deaths and hospitalizations, and translating that in to dollars, really made me realize that I would never want to be in his shoes. It’s so sad to even think about all that death let alone having to do the cost projections.

so, when you people watch MASH and they got the guy (Bloodworth) who estimates the wounded and dead from the battles, None of you thought “hell, yeah, that would be my job”

We’re not dealing directly with misfortune in this industry. We’re the industry that helps people when they experience misfortune. We do good things in bad times.

Maybe you’re making sure that products are priced competitively so people can afford healthcare insurance. Or maybe you’re working in reserving so that when a global pandemic hits and people are dying and hospitalized, that their benefits are backed by a company that’s strong enough that consumers are assured of receiving their benefits at the worst point in their lives. Consumers don’t care about this stuff until they care about it. Then, it’s everything to them.

We may not see the direct impact because the industry is so large, but overall every one of us involved in insurance and the actuarial world are helping shore up a wall of defence for consumers. And we’re doing a heluva job - just think were we’d be in the last year without everyone of us doing what we’re doing.



But also, I’m wired that way. I was doing estimates of covid deaths as soon as covid was in the news, not because it’s my job, but because that’s how i cope with stress.

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the correct term is “triage” . . . and anyone going into ER medicine or military medicine knows they’ll do this at some point in time.