When Nafeesah Waziri joined American Family Insurance as a claim care center representative in Denver almost nine years ago, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Waziri, a lesbian and first generation American, treated her first year with the company as an opportunity to “sit back and observe.”
“I’d had negative experiences when I came out at other jobs. Given that, I wasn’t sure what to expect at American Family,” she said. “As a member of a marginalized group I wanted watch and learn before putting myself out there.”
Then, about a year into her tenure, she saw employees at all levels, along with several agency owners, actively and proudly representing the company in the Denver Pride Parade and Pridefest related activities. And she joined them.
“So many people were involved. My bosses, company leaders, people I looked up to,” Waziri said. “That’s when I knew I was in a safe place – an amazing place.”
Waziri embraced the inclusive culture at American Family and has never looked back. She’s an active member of the company’s LGBTQA Business Resource Group (BRG) and the Denver office lead for all the company’s BRGs: Abilities, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Multicultural, South Asian, Southeast/East Asian, Veterans/Military and Women’s. Among other things, these employee groups provide networking, education and input for business practices decisions regarding diversity.
Waziri, the mother of a multiracial daughter, is also very aware of how important it is to be an ally to others. “This is the first company I’ve worked for that promotes allyship,” she said.
Waziri’s experience is reflected in the fact that American Family Insurance has been recognized as one of the best workplaces for LGBTQ equality for the sixth consecutive year, announced today.
American Family received a top score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking report on LGBTQ workplace equality. The 2021 CEI rated businesses in the report are based on policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, parity in spousal and partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, and public engagement with the LGBTQ community.
“For the past six years, we’ve achieved this score by focusing on inclusion as a whole, because we want people to feel a sense of belonging through bringing their whole self to work,” said President and CEO-elect Bill Westrate. “Diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded in our strategy because it’s the right thing to do for our people, it’s important to our customers and produces better results.”
American Family was also recently named one of the “best of best” insurance companies for diversity and inclusion by Black EOE Journal, which highlights employment and entrepreneurship with a focus on the African American community. Among other things, these companies are evaluated on their business practices and policies that support equal access, advancement and inclusion for all individuals, actively seeking diverse candidates and sponsorship and involvement with nonprofit diversity conferences.
“I’m so glad the company is being recognized as a leader for our work in diversity, equity and inclusion,” Waziri said. “I love this company for so many reasons, including that I’ve never been held back for who I am. I came in as an hourly employee without a lot of claims experience and now I’m in management. I can be myself and be the contributor I want to be. I’m very appreciative of the culture here.”
For more information on the 2021 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.