QBE Employees Chose Doyenne for $15K Grant as Part of the Insurance Company’s New Approach to Philanthropy

Last year, an employee group from QBE, an integrated specialist insurer with an office in Sun Prairie, chose the Doyenne Group to receive a $15,000 grant from the QBE Foundation.

A QBE employee familiar with Doyenne nominated it for consideration for the grant because of the synergies between the two organization’s values.

Over the past year, QBE has been revamping its efforts to engage employees in volunteering and investing in their community, focusing on how employees could apply their unique expertise to address community challenges related to QBE Foundation’s four strategic program areas of food security, diversity and inclusion, resilient cities, and financial inclusion.

As part of its diversity and inclusion program, QBE offers four Business Resource Groups: WIN (Women’s Initiative Network), MIX (Multicultural & Inclusive Xtension), PRIDE (LGBTQ+), and VALOR (Veterans).

The QBE Foundation asked each Business Resource Group to identify challenges related to diversity and inclusion that they wanted to address with organizational grants. The BRGs had to develop a grant-making strategy aimed at creating new jobs and supporting diverse candidates in those career paths.

Erin Fry and Kiera Goral, co-chairs of WIN, headed up the grant-making process for their group, and helped put together a grant application to the foundation on Doyenne’s behalf.

“The partnership with Doyenne is important because they support the same values we do,” said Fry, who serves as senior vice president for QBE North America’s Specialty & Casualty Programs business. “Finding solutions for women who are developing businesses and connecting them to resources creates a partnership beyond a financial contribution. We’re trying to develop and connect our colleagues through helping others become more entrepreneurial.”

About 40 women across QBE North America contribute regularly to the group’s events, which include local lunch & learns, as well as much larger events which provide great networking opportunities, exposure and visibility to upper leadership.

When we have larger events, women at all different levels can volunteer in a front-facing position to organize the event, giving them an opportunity to speak in front of a large group of colleagues, including executive committee leaders,” said Goral, assistant vice president for Professional Liability Claims.

One of WIN’s goals is to provide a safe space for dialogue about concerns employees might have about issues like flexible work arrangements, compensation, or career advancement.

“Sometimes there can be a perception that a flexible work arrangement might hold back your career,” Goral said. “We’re encouraging the dialogue so that women feel empowered by flexible work-life options, and that men and women who don’t see the need for a flexible environment understand why it can be important.”

WIN is not just for women — the group openly encourages male allies to join and contribute, Fry said.

“We don’t want someone to think, ‘Will I be judged negatively if I leave for an hour to take my children to the doctor?’” Fry said. “Instead, they can openly discuss concerning subjects and hear solutions from other colleagues that might work for them. It opens up a whole discussion about work-life balance.”

QBE has been proud to announce they’ve reached gender equality in pay across the globe, but the organization still recognizes the need for a space to discuss equal compensation, as well as career advancement.

“I’ve heard a couple of our members say that because of WIN they feel their ability to move laterally within the company is enhanced,” Goral said. “Their career path doesn’t always have to be upward, it can be over and still be valuable.”

In addition to the Doyenne grant, WIN also awarded a $15,000 grant to STEM Connector, an organization dedicated to growing talent for STEM-related careers.

Josie Barnett, Foundation Manager with QBE, said that these initiatives from the QBE Foundation help show the world the importance and relevance of the insurance industry.

“There’s so much inside of an insurance company that people don’t realize,” she said. “Insurance companies are often regarded as fixed giants of the corporate world, but there’s so much innovation that comes out of them. As we work to mitigate risks for our customers, we often develop new solutions.”

In the spirit of driving innovation, QBE Ventures has created a new initiative, called the QBE and Ashoka Urban Resilience Challenge. This challenge invites for-profit enterprises to submit their ideas and designs for technology solutions that help cities run more efficiently and sustainably.

The idea is to source what’s going on in cities, where innovation is coming from — everything from the tech that allows bike-sharing, or even smart parking,” Barnett said. “We will be looking at applications from the following thematic tracks: The Built Environment (infrastructure); Sustainable Economies, Food/Water/Waste, and Public Health and Safety.”

The challenge launched in February and will accept applications for about three months. QBE employees will then select the top 10 ideas to advance to a pitch competition in New York, which will happen in September or October. QBE will award the winner a $75,000 cash prize, and the runner up will receive $25,000.