To close out Pride month, we spoke with Jim Kantner, a senior underwriter based out of our Mt. Laurel office, to get his perspective on diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
What does diversity, inclusion, and belonging mean to you?
For me, diversity, inclusion and belonging is fostering an environment where people feel comfortable to bring their full selves to work and every voice in the room is just as valuable as the next. As a gay man, sometimes I have a natural tendency to hesitate when communicating my ideas because the outside world can make me feel like I am going to have to fight a little harder to be seen, simply because of who I am. It’s like a “I have to pick my battles” mentality. Diversity, inclusion and belonging guards against that mentality with a culture that makes it clear with consistent reminders that Admiral is a safe place for whoever I am. You never know what opinion or thought was withheld simply because someone felt like it might not be valued if it comes from them.
Why is it essential to have a diverse work culture?
I think a diverse work culture is necessary for a company to truly realize its full potential because if individuals don’t feel comfortable as they are at work, it can directly impact motivation and how much they believe their voice is valued, no matter how capable they are in their role. Subsequently, the company can miss out on great ideas and new ways of doing things simply because someone doesn’t feel empowered to voice their opinion. I know I am better at my job and a better teammate knowing I don’t have to spend time and energy worrying about my voice being less impactful simply because I’m gay.
How can we better implement diversity, inclusion, and belonging into our business?
I think we do a good job making this clearly a core value of the company, but I think we could demonstrate that core value a little more with approaching diversity and inclusion as a goal at both the company level and at the local team level. When we achieve success in our production-based goals we actively look into why we were successful and discuss as a team how we can do things differently next year to build on that success. Having those discussions at the team level about diversity and inclusion a couple times a year could really empower people to bring something to the table they may not have in a bigger setting.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you got into the industry?
I wish I knew how much this really is a people and relationship driven business. The best product at the best price does not guarantee success in our world. Truly sustaining long term success individually and as a company comes down to the strength of your relationships, whether it is externally with brokers or internally with my team.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To have more confidence that your true self is what will make you the most successful. As an introverted gay man in the closet, I was not exactly the social butterfly growing up and I landed a job that required me to form a lot of strong relationships with brokers I didn’t know. My social anxiety got the best of me for a little bit. Once I consistently gave people my authentic self and not the version I thought they wanted, my relationships grew stronger and I became better and happier in my job.