Interview conducted by Wayne Guzman, LAAHU Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee chair
June Taylor may not have desired the center stage, but events and a calling have propelled her to her upcoming leadership role as president of the Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters (LAAHU).
A person of strong mind with a big heart, from the moment June said yes to becoming the first ever chairperson of the newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee and the first ever co-chair of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) DEI Task Force, there has been no stopping her passion to serve others through her work and volunteerism.
Guzman: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Taylor: I grew up in the south and as a small girl I was part of the AME church where there were many people to support me. And to model commitment to community for me. As an African-American mother of three sons, there’s not a day that goes by that I do not think about their safety and to seek how I can make the world a better place for all of us. One way I do that is to give back through providing leadership in professional organizations as well as in women’s groups for different charities.
Guzman: What were you thinking and why did you say yes to being the chairperson of the newly formed LAAHU DEI Committee?
Taylor: I wasn’t thinking! My thoughts and emotions were all tied to the George Floyd incident and in that moment, I knew I had to be a voice in the DEI space. Sadly, there are too few people of color (POC) that work in the Insurance industry, and I personally would like to see that change so, the question simply became “If not me, who?”
Guzman: As president what do you hope to change or improve within our association?
Taylor: The three things that I intend to focus on in the coming year are to:
1. Develop a full working board with a commitment to succession training
2. Shed light on the health inequities within communities that we serve
3. Increase diverse membership
Guzman: How do you balance it all?
Taylor: As a spiritual person, I start most days out with prayer. I find that it helps me to stay focused and on track with my priorities. Most importantly, I must have life balance meaning, some good old fashion FUN with friends and family.
Guzman: Do you have any favorite hobbies or interests you would like to share?
Taylor: I absolutely love second-hand stores. I can spend hours in my local thrift store looking for vintage clothing. I find the neatest stuff. I’m also very committed to my weekly Bible study class. We have such a great time together. I simply enjoy the fellowship — it’s amazing!
Guzman: What have you learned as a leader that you’d like to share with your colleagues?
Taylor: Wow, I can’t believe that given all the events over the past 15 to 20 years, we are still in this place of turmoil and division, and just beginning to address diversity and equity issues. I ask myself “Why did this not happen before? And why is it happening now? How can I contribute?” It seems long overdue so long that it blows my mind.
I realized if not me, who is going to speak up? On the initial LAAHU call, I was the only African American. I began to wish I would have been a voice long ago, so I was inspired to step up.
Guzman: So, now that we’ve started, and especially during COVID-19, how do you see us connecting and staying connected?
Taylor: Luckily we have great technology tools to support connection, like Microsoft teams, zoom, etc. We plan to use recognition programs, strategic communication and messaging, to encourage current active members. These folks are the best of the best and are hungry to know how to make real change in the organization that will reflect a commitment to justice, fairness and equity. We have gained momentum and nothing is going to stop us now
Guzman: Any parting words?
Taylor: Yes! Make a commitment to real change to doing real good. Commit to regularly scheduled strategy huddles to address DEI concerns with your key team members. Make sure you have the right people on your team. This is very important. Then, inspire that team with a shared vision and goal. If you do this, you will meet so many wonderful people and make a true shift to a better society.
JUNE TAYLOR, RHU, is senior sales executive, regional sales & broker relations, California Large Group Sales, Kaiser Permanente. Contact: June.firstname.lastname@example.org 818-309-8425
WAYNE GUZMAN, SHRM-SCP, is senior manager, Statewide Outreach for Blue Shield of California. He also serves as LAAHU DEI Committee chair; NAHU DEI Committee past chair and member; and IEAHU past president.