WWCode Podcast 46: Christy Caragol, SVP Talent Management, DEI at Arch Capital
Written by WWCode HQ
Michi DeWitt Co-director at Woman Who Code San Diego, interviews Christy Caragol, SVP of Talent Management and Diversity and Inclusion at Arch Capital Group. They discuss how Christy’s background in social work contributes to her work today. They also talk about the importance of inclusion and diversity in the workplace, and ways the companies can turn good intentions into real impact.
Tell us about your career background?
My academic background is in social work. I worked with homeless families striving for self-sufficiency. I also worked in an intensive outpatient treatment program for chemically dependent women. When I was looking to move to the next stage, I had no clue where to go or what to do. I signed up with a temp agency. I wanted to get experience in a different industry. I landed in a comp and bands team for a company called Towers Perrin. It was a growing company of about 5000 at that time, predominantly consultancy, HR capital consulting, but also some risk services. There was so much churn on the team that I kept raising my hand. I have now been at Arch for two years.
Do you feel like the background that you have in social work influenced your decision to work in diversity and inclusion?
A million times over. It’s really just focused on people and the connection between thoughts, behavior, and feelings, which is what drives all of us. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a mental health setting or in a corporate setting. If you study change leadership within an organization, it’s about the why. What motivates people? I want to bring out the best and help people bring out their best at work. My approach to D&I or DE&I is to create an environment where everyone is able to show up and contribute equally and equitably.
What is your role at Arch Capital?
I arrived on the scene in 2020, two weeks after the shutdown. The role itself was brand new, looking after the head of talent management and diversity and inclusion at that time. The talent management was focused on the building blocks of succession planning and talent reviews. That was around the time that the murder of George Floyd happened. That catapulted us into conversations that we hadn’t had before as a company. The conversation got really intense quickly because of what was happening and because of the real palpable fear that people were experiencing. My role, to date, has been to move us from intent to impact in the D&I space. When we were having the initial discussions about our strategy, our CEO, Marc Grandisson was crystal clear that he does not want this to be about a bunch of words and good intentions. This is really about making changes that are meaningful and actually change behaviors and outcomes.
Why should companies care about inclusion and diversity?
It’s absolutely mission-critical for any company today to compete in the talent space, products, and innovations. You need to access a broad swathe of thought, which comes from people’s different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. If you’re not tapping into all of that, you’re restricting the range of collective group intelligence. Also, you need to create an environment where people feel safe, that they can be themselves, that they can say something without fear of a personal kind of devaluation or a negative judgment. We’ve been working hard to teach the behaviors that reinforce active listening and empathy and making sure that we bring everyone in and we ask for opinions. We value everybody. We need you to come and participate and play.
How can companies turn that good intention into a real impact when they’re hiring?
It’s a great question, it’s one that we’re wrestling with. The truth is, the day job sometimes gets in the way. It’s hard work to do things differently and to learn new ways. Its hand-to-hand combat in terms of changing individual behaviors and educating people one by one about the benefits of looking in a different place. It’s a slow process. I think at the end of the day, it’s top-down and bottoms-up accountability.
What do you want women in tech to know about Arch capital and the insurance space in general?
There’s a perception and a branding of the industry that we are trying to change bit by bit. I would say, check us out. It’s great on so many fronts, from a balanced point of view to a career growth point. There are so many different facets of the insurance industry. You don’t need to necessarily have a P&C background, you can learn some of the technical stuff as you go. From a cultural standpoint, it’s a phenomenal place to be. We’re constantly in search of IT and tech-based roles.
What do you enjoy about the company culture?
It is a variant company and its teenage years literally. We maintain a real entrepreneurial spirit of experimentation, openness to change, looking ahead, figuring out the best way, and not being afraid to try new things. Also, everyone is so nice. It’s a culture that really cares about people.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
I love to cook. The cultural tie is from my father’s side. He’s from Barcelona, from a huge family. It’s that whole family focus, celebration, and spending that time together centered around food and drink. I exercise so my body feels strong.
What is your pro-tip?
Confidence, not competence. I would encourage women to make sure you’re purposefully building a network of people who prop you up and really shine a light on your value, Practice speaking up. There’s a book that I find useful called How Women Rise co-authored by Sally Helgesen. It is a rewrite of the book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” It was rewritten with a female audience instead of what was prior. With women, with racial differences, with cultural differences, there can be systemic barriers.