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Life and Health Community Grieves for George Floyd

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Life, health and annuity groups and companies have stood up to condemn the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis May 25 as Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, took a knee to his neck, while he was being videotaped, as onlookers asked him to get up.

The killing has sparked days of protests in Minneapolis and its twin city, St. Paul, Minnesota. Fire crews are fighting dozens of fires. Local officials have estimated that about 440 businesses in the cities have been damaged or looted.

The list of insurers with headquarters in and around the Minneapolis and St. Paul includes Ameriprise Financial Inc., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Securian Financial Group Inc., Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, and UnitedHealth Group Inc.

Those companies have already been coping with the effects of the COVID-19 impact on claims and operations. Ameriprise, for example, told ThinkAdvisor that the effects of the reaction to George Floyd’s death has been minimum, because most of the company’s employees, and most of its 9,900 advisors, are already working remotely.

“For the small number who are working from the office, we are making decisions based on local safety conditions, and working with them to ensure they remain safe,” Ameriprise told ThinkAdvisor reporter Janet Levaux.

(Related: Twin Cities Financial Firms Speak Out After Floyd’s Killing, Protests)

Many groups and companies have put out letters, statements or announcements, or signed on as signatories to Minnesota groups’ letters, to express their views on George Floyd’s death.

The organizations involved have all expressed sadness and anger for what happened, and talked about the organizations’ role in fighting racial injustice.

Here are excerpts from some of what the life and health community organizations have said.

A joint statement on behalf of the U.S. life insurance community

Signed by: Susan Neely, president of the American College of Life Insurers; George Nichols III, president of the American College of Financial Services; Marc Cadin, president of AALU/GAMA; Kevin Mayeux, chief executive officer of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors; and David Levenson, president of LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global.

The life insurance community grieves with the nation over the racial injustice, brutality and bigotry that took the life of George Floyd and the lives of so many others. Too often, the justice system has failed, bringing devastating consequences such as destroyed hope, fear and division.

Overcoming today’s agonizing rupture and advancing promise for all will require engagement by each of us – a resolve to face the pain, anxiety and frustration experienced by Black Americans and others subjected to prejudice. We must move forward with moral purpose, making contributions with our own abilities and sustained commitment.

For our part – on behalf of life insurance companies, producers and financial educators – when we say we’re committed to providing financial security to all Americans, we mean it.

We stand committed to helping all people take care of those they love – our most critical mission. Financial well-being is not just a state of mind, and we must focus our collective knowledge on empowering prosperity and opening avenues for collective growth. We are committed to identifying new policies that will provide greater financial security to more people – particularly for the most vulnerable among us.

We stand committed to sustained partnership in the community to drive solutions to address systemic inequality. And we stand committed to fostering diversity and inclusion for our employees and the workforce.

Building a diverse and inclusive profession for those we serve and those we employ is a journey. And we’re in it for the long term.

The tumult, hurt and anger we see today must be addressed for every person seeking to heal, find peace, experience equality, achieve unity, believe in the present, and have faith in the future for themselves and their families. As Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

We do it together.

A statement Dr. Marc Gorelick, president of Children’s Minnesota hospital, issued in response to the recent tragedy.

Signed by: 28 executives, including Dr. Craig Samitt, president of BlueCrossMN, and Christopher Hilger, president of Securian

As business leaders in Minnesota committed to the principles of greater equity, diversity and inclusion in our companies and in our community, we are deeply saddened and horrified by the recent death of Mr. George Floyd.

We share our sincere condolences with his family and friends, and all those who mourn this tragic loss. His death while being restrained by Minneapolis police officers is yet another senseless loss of life — one that reflects deeply ingrained, long-standing injustice within our society.

We are encouraged by the quick response of the authorities in terminating the officers and launching an investigation. We anticipate that it will lead to justice and accountability.

It is hard to watch the video of the event as it is clearly evident Mr. Floyd was not treated with the dignity and respect he was due as a human being. These acts are painful and traumatic for our entire community, especially our communities of color.

The repeated occurrence of racially charged events of this nature are contrary to the close-knit employment and residential communities we desire to have in Minnesota. We are committed to taking steps to eliminate the repeat of events like this in our society and committed to investing in substantive change in our organizations and the communities we serve to address racial inequities and social justice. Change has to start today, and it needs to start with us.

Prudential Financial Inc.’s statement

Prudential: “We will ultimately be judged by our actions”

Prudential is profoundly disturbed by the manner of George Floyd’s death, and by the fact that he joins a long and ever-growing list of Black Americans who have lost their lives because of the color of their skin.

We acknowledge the grief, fear and anger felt by our African-American colleagues, friends, and fellow citizens, as well as their families and communities, not just because of this latest tragedy, but because of the dangers, obstacles and humiliations they face due to racism, both overt and implicit.

As a values-based company that employs a diverse community of more than 20,000 employees across the U.S., we recognize our responsibility to help lead our society towards a future in which racism and unequal treatment play no part. Having been a part of, and invested in, our Newark, New Jersey community for more than 145 years, we know that we will ultimately be judged for our actions, and for outcomes that stand the test of time.

A letter to the workforce from Thrivent’s CEO

Signed by: Teresa Rasmussen, president and CEO

The senseless death of George Floyd reminds us to reflect, recognize our biases and vow to do better.

As this week draws to a close, I want to first thank you for your continued focus on serving our clients and advancing our strategic transformation as the world presents many challenges. I also want to provide my thoughts on the recent, painful events in our own backyard and across the country that call on us all to take a hard look at the systemic bias that disproportionately affects people of color in our community.

I share in the community outrage and disbelief over the circumstances related to the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Monday evening. I am deeply appalled by the actions captured on video of police officers unnecessarily exerting extreme force on Mr. Floyd while he struggled for breath and eventually died.

This horrifying death where so many of the Thrivent family live and work is a reminder that this violent and weaponized racism is rampant and senseless across our country. The targeted murder of jogger Ahmaud Aubrey in Georgia. The confrontation between a white dog walker and a black bird watcher in New York City. Every time we see this kind of tragedy it can be hard not to feel emotional, not just for the human being affected or their family, or the colleagues we know, but for all people who could be — and have been — victims of overt and dangerous racism.

I write about this to you not because I face these situations firsthand. I write to you today to urge us to pause to re-examine our own attitudes and behaviors; to recognize our own biases; and to do our parts to make ourselves better. To make our communities and country better. And to continue making Thrivent better. We are on our own diversity and inclusion journey here at Thrivent, with each experience along the way providing valuable learnings. Learnings about the importance of recruiting, retaining and promoting diverse candidates while also supporting their families and the communities in which they live.

As an organization with a long tradition of serving Christians, Thrivent extends our sincere condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Mr. Floyd and the larger communities who have suffered these losses for far too long. But prayers and condolences are not enough. All of us — regardless of race, faith, political ideology, culture or other beliefs — must step back and seriously reflect on these tragedies and the underlying causes. We need to reflect and then be willing to act and make real changes so that the tragedies do not keep happening.

We all process things and grow differently. Conversations are essential, and I share my thoughts with you today to prompt these conversations. Talk with your families, friends and colleagues. We are scheduling virtual Listening Circles beginning next week for our workforce to openly discuss these issues. We are committed to creating spaces for our workforce to have honest conversations with one another, so we can learn and grow together.

Meanwhile, the community at large is processing all this very openly in the streets of Minneapolis. I’m thankful to report our offices were spared any direct exposure to last night’s violence. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, as the safety and security of our people will always be our top priority.

Thrivent is committed to providing a safe environment for its workforce, where everyone feels valued and included. Let’s keep the dialogue going; if you have ideas on how we can improve in this crucial area, speak up. We are an organization whose core values include doing what is right and helping all of humanity. Thrivent calls for and is committed to providing healing, positive action, hope and reconciliation among all people throughout this community and beyond so we all can thrive with lives of safety, meaning and gratitude.

During the past several weeks of this pandemic, I have seen all of us at Thrivent come together as truly One Thrivent, supporting one another and caring about one another. Now we must continue to care and support one another as we confront our feelings about the tragic death of Mr. Floyd.

UnitedHealth’s announcement of support for Minneapolis-St. Paul in response to the George Floyd tragedy and civil unrest

Following the tragic death of George Floyd, UnitedHealth Group on Monday announced a commitment to support Mr. Floyd’s family, help Minneapolis-St. Paul businesses restore operations, and fund efforts to advance equality and inclusivity in the Twin Cities community. In all, UnitedHealth Group and its team members will donate $10 million and 25,000 volunteer hours in response to Mr. Floyd’s tragic death and the ensuing civil unrest.

“George Floyd’s death is an unspeakable tragedy. Communities all across America are struggling to make sense of what’s happened and how we as a society pull together to move forward, heal, learn and grow,” said David S. Wichmann, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group. “The 325,000 people of UnitedHealth Group remain steadfast in our commitment to not only build a culture of inclusivity and diversity within our own organization, but to ensure our actions help create a more equitable society for the people we serve.

— Read How the First Black CFP Built His Practiceon ThinkAdvisor.

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