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Liberty Mutual's MBA RISE program kickoff event

Focus on Doing the Right Thing Contributes to Liberty Mutual Insurance’s People-Centric Approach

A desire to always do the right thing permeates the culture at Liberty Mutual Insurance, where five key values guide the company’s work.

“We live by five values: being open, which means engaging with all people and possibilities; keeping it simple by being clear and transparent; putting people first by acting with dignity, empathy and respect; making things better by being proactive and challenging the status quo; and acting responsibly by doing what’s right and following through,” says Liberty Mutual Insurance Campus Recruiting Program Manager Kelly Scott, who leads all diversity and inclusion campus-related programs and partnerships at the company.

One thing that sets Liberty Mutual apart in its effort to do good, Scott says, is its emphasis on all people. “What I love about Liberty is that this focus doesn’t just apply to our customers, but we apply it internally as well,” she says. “So whether I’m working on a project or helping plan for a conference, I’m always thinking of these values — how can I be more open, how can I make things easier for people, how can I put people first — and I think, when you live by those values, you are putting your people first.”

Liberty Mutual’s people-first philosophy translates to providing a welcoming and inclusive work environment for employees as well as giving them the ability to drive positive change at the company and in the wider world. Through several efforts, employees play an active role in improving the company culture and are able to have an impact both inside and outside of Liberty’s walls.

The company’s six employee resource groups (ERGs) provide an opportunity for employees to connect with colleagues across the company who they otherwise may not have the chance to and who they share interests or affinities with, says Scott. With groups representing a variety of backgrounds and identities — including LGBTQ+, African descent, Asian Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, women and veterans — Liberty’s ERGs help foster a sense of belonging among all employees.

“[The ERGs] help employees by making them feel more comfortable bringing their whole self to work and help employees expand their network to other areas of Liberty,” Scott says.

Supported by the company’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), the ERGs follow an established framework focused on four Cs: commerce, culture, career and community. They each have their own internal website where they can share articles, publish blog posts and post information about upcoming events. They also often help plan large-scale events. For example, last year, the LGBTQ+ group, known as Pride, sponsored and helped plan nine separate Pride parades across the country, Scott says.

“That’s all employee-powered,” she notes. “Liberty’s volunteers from different parts of the country organized the Pride parades, helped orchestrate the registration, gave out shirts, and then we worked with our brand and communication team on the question of ‘How are we going to show up at the Pride parade? What’s the messaging going to be?’”

Another important component of the ERGs is the inclusion of allies, which Scott says helps employees build awareness and understanding of groups that are different from them.

“As an example, I’m a Pride ally, and I’m really involved with that group. I’ve met so many people and learned so much about that particular group and the challenges they face,” says Scott. “I’ve also had the chance to leverage some skills that I haven’t been able to leverage as much in my day job through this group. So, it’s a great way to build out a skill that maybe I don’t have as much time to dedicate to in my day job as well as meet new people and explore different opportunities.”

Liberty Mutual MBA RISE program participants
2019 MBA RISE program participants

Perhaps most importantly, though, through the ERGs, employees have the ability to help influence business and policy decisions at Liberty Mutual. One such recent policy update included an increase in parental leave for new moms to four months and for dads to 16 weeks. “That was a direct result of the work of our women’s and allies group,” says Scott, “and how they worked with D&I, HR and all of the groups across the organization to make the business case for why this is important and how it would make us a best-in-class employer.”

ERG leaders are also having an impact in other ways as they work to guide the next generation of business leaders through another one of Liberty’s people-focused initiatives, the MBA RISE program. Launched in fall 2019, RISE stands for Recognizing Inclusion in Successful Enterprise. Designed for students from underrepresented populations who are just beginning their MBA, RISE provides professional support and guidance to these individuals during their MBA program.

After Liberty Mutual’s recruiters noticed a dearth of women and people of color in MBA programs on campuses across the country, the company decided to follow the research to help bridge this gap.

“The research showed that more students from underrepresented populations are at a disadvantage when beginning an MBA program; maybe their parents didn’t go to college or never got a master’s degree, or they don’t have the same economic resources that someone else might have,” says Scott. “The research also shows that if you can provide them with mentorship and professional guidance that they may have not [previously] had, they’re more likely to succeed and graduate, so that is the goal of the program.”

RISE kicks off with a big event in July, before school starts, where students learn about Liberty and opportunities available there, network with company employees as well as their peers in the program, attend workshops and more. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the company made the decision at the end of April to host the kickoff event online as a virtual event. However, Scott says Liberty will provide ample opportunities for participants to engage pre- and post-summit with one another, current employees and mentors.

“We offer workshops that focus on and address things like imposter syndrome and how to navigate your MBA or your career,” Scott says. “We also provide a safe space to have constructive dialogue with our leaders about topics in diversity and inclusion and how that impacts the workplace.”

The MBAs are then paired with mentors, many of whom are ERG leaders, with whom they meet in a virtual setting every six to eight weeks throughout the duration of their MBA experience. “It’s really a mentorship circle,” explains Scott, adding that each mentor has two to three students assigned to them. “They meet as a group in that six- to eight-week cadence, and then the mentors also meet with them individually at least twice a year.”

Mentors are there to provide educational and professional guidance that might include advice on what classes to take, assistance if a student is struggling in a class or interview prep. “Just having that person there to help them can make a huge difference in whether they feel like they’re successful and have the support they need that they otherwise may not have,” Scott says.

Access to virtual professional development is another benefit of participation in the RISE program. This includes a bi-monthly e-newsletter, which generally centers around a theme. In addition to spotlighting employees and executives, it offers insight and tips.

“The December newsletter was focused on networking and case prep, so [we had] some of our employees who have gone through that process share tips and tricks,” Scott says. “We also offer quarterly professional development. For the first one we offered in the fall, we had one of our corporate development program alums do a crash course on insurance and how insurance companies make money, which we did through Zoom.”

Mentors help determine the focus of such content by providing insight into any areas of interest or need expressed or demonstrated by RISE participants. “Curating the content to make it more timely and meet the students where they are at is how we develop all of that material,” says Scott.

Liberty Mutual's MBA RISE program kickoff event
Liberty Mutual’s 2019 MBA RISE program kickoff event

While one of Liberty Mutual’s hopes is that the program will result in some participants seeking out opportunities at the company, Scott says that is not the only goal of RISE. Participants do, however, gain early interview access to internships should they choose to apply, and mentors are available to help coach them through the process.

“We encourage them to talk to their mentor if they’re unsure, if maybe they want to go into tech, maybe they want to go into banking,” says Scott. “That’s absolutely fine as well. We just want to provide them with that professional support.”

The Consortium has been a large driver for the program as 42 percent of the RISE program’s inaugural class were Consortium members. Due to positive feedback from both students and business partners, Liberty Mutual is growing the program this year from 24 students to 30, creating the potential for the company to have an even greater impact.

“We are seeking out new talent pipelines for both our undergraduate and MBA space,” says Scott. “The Consortium has not only provided access to top-tier talent in this space, but they’ve also guided us on some best recruiting practices and have helped us promote our brand to students who may not have considered Liberty before.”

As a result of last year’s pilot program, Liberty Mutual hired five RISE students who will complete internships at the company this summer. One of them, Racquel Waite, is a Consortium student who will start as a Corporate Development Program summer associate in June.

“Not only did the program connect me with some of the most welcoming and brilliant professionals and MBAs during the summer, but it served as an additional recruitment and networking pipeline throughout my business school journey,” says Waite. “Overall, the RISE program helped me to be more intentional about my career and personal goals and provided a community of support which I could leverage to realize those goals.”

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Liberty is committed to honoring its internship commitments and has taken proactive steps to help keep both interns and full-time employees safe and healthy. Interns will begin their internships working remotely, and the Campus Recruiting team has developed a robust virtual onboarding plan as well as a wealth of resources to ensure managers and interns feel supported during this transition.

Scott is pleased thus far with the MBA RISE Program’s success and notes that while it has been a “huge win” for the company, she hopes it is also a huge win for the students. Ultimately, she believes the MBA RISE program, like the ERGs, feeds into Liberty Mutual’s effort to always do the right thing. “It’s a demonstration of living our values,” Scott says. “Making things better is an important value.”

Learn more about and apply for Liberty Mutual’s MBA RISE program here.

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