After 20 years in finance and commercial insurance, Joyce Trimuel, EMBA ’16, might seem like a surprising choice to be a chief diversity officer, even if it is at CNA, one of the country’s leading commercial insurance firms.
“I always tell people I’m probably one of the most nontraditional diversity officers that you’ll meet,” she says. “But I was always doing diversity and inclusion work on the side of my desk.”
Trimuel has long been passionate about opening up opportunities for others. As a finance major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from a working-class family, she wasn’t sure how to enter corporate America. Thanks to a program called INROADS, she learned the soft skills needed to succeed and scored an internship with Chubb, the largest commercial insurer in the United States. After graduation, she joined its specialty underwriting division in Chicago, where she worked for nearly 10 years.
During that time, and later while Trimuel was working in Washington, D.C., as Chubb’s assistant vice president and regional marketing manager from 2007 to 2012, she always gave back, volunteering in education and even becoming a licensed foster parent.
But it was in 2012 when Trimuel really started focusing on opening up opportunity for others at her workplace. That year, she became Chubb’s first and only female, African-American branch manager. After moving to Kansas City to start the job that had been a longtime dream, she noticed that all the brokers and agency leaders she was working with were men.
“I was baffled by the lack of women in leadership across the board,” she says.
By 2013, Trimuel had created Lead.Link.Leverage, a program that helped more than 200 women in the Kansas City area develop business skills to advance their careers. Trimuel oversaw the program for three years.
Trimuel was also serving on the board for the charter school KIPP Endeavor Academy and chairing Chubb’s multicultural development council. The council was a group of about 250 individuals who identified as multicultural and were positioned at the assistant vice president level or above at Chubb.
Trimuel helped organize an executive leadership program for 18 people in the group. They were divided into teams and given business problems to solve. They then presented their solutions to the C-suite.
“[They were] getting access to senior leaders in a meaningful way,” Trimuel says. “I’m not saying that they received promotions as a result of this one event, but it helped give them a larger and wider audience of folks to advocate for them.”
At the same time, Trimuel was a student in Washington University’s Executive MBA program from 2014 to 2016. A few months before the program ended, she left Chubb and took a year off to figure out what she wanted to do next.
“I’m not a job hopper,” Trimuel says. “I didn’t want to get into a new role and realize, ‘Oh, this isn’t for me.’”
Instead, she worked with her executive coach at Olin. Drawn to being a diversity and inclusion officer, Trimuel connected with an opportunity at CNA. “My skill set and the needs of the organization seemed to align perfectly,” Trimuel says.
She started as the company’s first chief diversity officer in March 2017. Trimuel describes her role as “outside-in work.” She works to bolster a culture of inclusivity at CNA, while using new methods to recruit people to the industry, which is expected to have 400,000 vacancies by 2020.
“It takes a lot of energy to pretend all day every day, and people shouldn’t have to do that [to fit in at the workplace],” Trimuel says. “We want to make sure we’re providing our employees with the resources and tools that they need to be successful and to be able to bring their entire authentic self to work every day.”
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