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California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara: “Diversity means business”

News: 2021 Press Release

For Release: October 8, 2021
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California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara: “Diversity means business”
At 2021 Virtual Insurance Diversity Summit, Commissioner Lara urges leaders to lead with purpose and promotes greater opportunity for small and diverse business owners in state’s $340 billion insurance market

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Continuing his efforts to provide greater opportunity for small and diverse business owners, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara today led the 2021 Virtual Insurance Diversity Summit – a two-day event featuring a resource fair along with keynotes by sector leaders, workshops and panels on how members of historically underrepresented groups can make the most of business opportunities in California’s $340 billion insurance market – the largest insurance market in the nation.

From California’s landmark board diversity laws to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent approval of NASDAQ’s board diversity rule, greater diversity in the corporate sector is connecting businesses more effectively with the customers they serve.

“Diversity means business and I mean business about diversity,” said Commissioner Lara, who has placed a new focus on the Department’s longstanding Insurance Diversity Initiative to address systemic racism and bias through collaboration and cooperation. “Representation matters. That’s why it’s crucial to see leaders who are leading purposefully and delivering value to the customers they serve, and the society in which they co-exist.”

The Summit continues Commissioner Lara’s focus to advance equity and inclusion within the boardrooms of California’s insurance companies and increasing business opportunities for members of historically underrepresented groups, women, veteran, disabled veteran, and LGBTQ+-owned enterprises. In 2019, these enterprises collectively supplied $2.1 billion in goods and services to insurance companies.

In keeping with the Summit’s theme of “Moving Beyond Resilience,” the summit opened its first day with a dialogue led by Ted Mathas, chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company. Mathas focused on what it means to lead with purpose, and how the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion have guided New York Life toward delivering results amidst a year of uncertainly with an evolving global health crisis and growing social justice movement.

On the second day of the summit, attendees had the opportunity to gain insights from Commissioner Lara, California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber, and Kaley Karaffa, Esq., Senior Director of Board Engagement & General Counsel at NASDAQ on how increasing the diversity among the boards of companies across corporate America can mean greater opportunity for all. The panel will be moderated by Linda Akutagawa, Alliance for Board Diversity Chair and an appointee to the Department’s Insurance Diversity Task Force.

Commissioner Lara highlighted Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing of legislation he championed – Senate Bill 655 authored by Senator Steven Bradford – which, among other provisions, requires specified insurance companies to provide greater transparency on their diversity goals. It lays a foundation for insurance companies to increase opportunities for diverse investment managers and to target their community investments toward social and environmental impact projects. The new law, which goes into effect beginning January 1, 2022, is a major step toward addressing equity and inclusion issues among communities experiencing systemic racism and bias.

“We need leaders who will rise to the challenge of our times and make real, significant investments in the communities they serve,” emphasized Commissioner Lara. 

Commissioner Lara convened insurance company executives, policymakers, corporate board directors, diverse businessowners, non-profit leaders, and other government agencies as part of this year’s Summit.

The Summit features a series of business matchmaking roundtables, a resource expo, and insightful webinars led by experts on the topics of race and diversity in the insurance industry, diversity in the boardroom, understanding how to contract with insurance companies, the state’s latest economic relief programs, and how to create winning strategies that enable businesses to thrive.

The full agenda is available at

Media Notes:

  • The insurance industry collects $340 billion annually in premiums from Californians, including auto, health, workers’ compensation, and many others. 
  • California is the largest insurance market in the United States of America, and the fourth largest in the world.
  • The national insurance market is $1.2 trillion.
  • Additional information about Insurance Diversity Initiative is on the Department’s website.

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Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.

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