Travelers Companies, Inc. – Racial Justice Audit (2023)
Outcome: 35.3% vote in favor of the proposal
Resolved: Shareholders urge the board of directors to oversee a third-party audit (within a reasonable time and cost, and consistent with the law) which assesses and produces recommendations for improving the racial impacts of its policies, practices, products, and services. Input from stakeholders, including civil rights organizations, employees, and customers, should be considered in determining the specific matters to be assessed. A report on the audit, prepared at reasonable cost and omitting confidential/proprietary information, should be published on the company’s website.
Travelers CEO Alan Schnitzer signed the Partnership for New York City pledge in June 2020, which reads “we are reasserting our commitments to diversity and inclusion among our boards, executive leadership, and our entire workforce” and “we commit to help address conditions” that lead to racial injustice. However, we believe Travelers’ policies and practices fall short of delivering on this pledge.
Travelers reports having made changes to its succession planning and talent management to identify people of color (POC) for hiring and promotion in 2020. Despite ranking 6th by premiums written out of 27 companies, Travelers ranked 20th in workforce race and ethnic diversity in 2021 according to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services report on diversity and inclusion in America’s largest insurance companies. The report also concluded Black or African American employees are overrepresented in lower-level positions and underrepresented at higher-level positions, which is true at Travelers. Black people represent just 3 percent of senior leadership, but 18 percent of administrative support according to its 2021 EEO-1 data. Additionally, Travelers has the lowest percentage of POC on boards compared to industry peers at 9.1 percent. The insurance industry average is 22.3 percent and within the top ten insurers, Travelers ranks last. Without transparent, public targets, it is unclear how Travelers will address the lack of diversity in its workforce.
The company may also face future legal risk. In 2018, Travelers settled a National Fair Housing Alliance lawsuit alleging it denied insurance to landlords renting to Section 8 voucher recipients, who are predominantly Black women. In 2020, Travelers privately settled with a Black construction vendor who filed complaints against seventeen insurance companies for refusing to contract with minority vendors. We believe it is necessary to identify and remedy potential gaps between Travelers’ non-discriminatory business practice policy and actual outcomes.
Additionally, Travelers’ policies are implicated in an environmental justice controversy. Since 2020, Indigenous groups have asked the company to avoid insuring any oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is opposed by the Gwich’in people that live there. Several banks and insurance companies have already made such commitments, but Travelers has yet to join the growing list.
We urge the company to conduct a full racial equity audit to examine its total impact and help dismantle systemic racism.