In recognition of Black History Month, company continues conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion
In recognition of Black History Month, Craig Beazer, executive vice president and general counsel, shares his thoughts on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) at Lincoln Financial and his perspective on this year’s Black History Month theme, Black Health and Wellness.
Q: You play an important role supporting the efforts of the Legal Diversity Action Team (DAT). What Legal DAT accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: Lincoln’s Legal department has a very passionate and engaged Diversity Action Team. We remain committed to supporting the efforts of our DE&I team to create a more diverse and inclusive environment here at Lincoln.
I’m so proud of our accomplishments and our continued outstanding work in support of building a more diverse and inclusive environment, both inside the virtual walls of Lincoln and within the legal profession at large. When Lincoln’s Legal DAT first formed in 2019, we were true pioneers in the legal diversity space. Diversity Lab named Lincoln one of just 19 legal departments to have achieved Mansfield Certification after completing the inaugural pilot certification program. Not surprisingly, our Legal DAT isn’t stopping there. We signed on for Mansfield Rule Legal Department 2.0 and we are working on re-certification in 2022.
Another key accomplishment of our Legal DAT is the 3-day Diversity in Action Legal Summit that we hosted last November, in partnership with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, LLP. The summit was the first of its kind and focused on topics such as Environmental, Social, and Governance issues, ethics and compliance, and diversity initiatives beyond affirmative action. We offered Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits for participation, and the event feedback was nothing short of phenomenal. We plan to continue our Diversity in Action summit this year and it’s just one example of the powerful momentum within our Legal DAT and the equally powerful support from Lincoln’s Senior Management Committee, our DEI organization, and our partners across the business.
Q: In what ways have you elevated Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts in the workplace at Lincoln?
A: I’m passionately supportive of the DE&I efforts at Lincoln. It’s clear that the DE&I team is focused not simply on "talking the talk” but on achieving real and lasting results, and it becomes incumbent upon individuals like me to be supportive not only because it’s the right thing to do, but from a legal standpoint. Also, I’m the General Counsel of a Fortune 200 company, and I happen to be African American. I believe it’s my responsibility to leverage my unique platform to do good and make a difference in this world. There were people who helped me throughout my journey to this position, and at this point in my life and in my career, it’s important to me that I make that happen for others as well. If there is anything I can do, big or small, I always try to help. I’m all about bestowing the lessons that I’ve learned upon others, especially if I can help make their paths easier. In my personal and my professional life, I get the most satisfaction out of giving back to others.
Q: This year’s Black History Month theme is Black Health and Wellness. What does health and wellness look like to you?
A: To me, it’s about keeping up with my health by ensuring I have an annual physical. It’s important to make sure that you follow through with your doctor’s appointments, even during these challenging times. Take your health seriously. If something doesn’t feel right physically or emotionally, there’s no shame in seeking help.
Wellness, to me, is about having the balance between physical, mental and financial health. If you can maintain the three, then you’ve achieved wellness. If you’re worried about your finances, that can impact your physical and mental health. Similarly, if you have physical health issues that you can’t afford to take care of, your financial health is now affected. So, wellness expands across those three areas – physical, mental and financial – and I believe it’s important to maintain that balance among them. As the saying goes, if you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll be forced to make time for your illness. I take that saying to heart across all aspects of wellness.
Q: When you spoke about wellness, you mentioned finances. Can you share a personal experience with financial wellness?
A: I think back to when I graduated from law school. I was earning a decent salary, as I started working in a private law firm. I had to pay for my own rent, student loans and other responsibilities. I was living in New York City, and I felt like there were so many other things I wanted to spend money on. I soon realized that you can make good money, but if you don’t have an equally good handle on your spending, it disappears! I learned pretty quickly that I needed to maintain my good credit, establish and stick to a practical financial budget and set aside emergency funds for that proverbial rainy day. Within that first year after law school, I learned to live within my means and what I could afford.
Q: Any final thoughts on the Black History Month theme of Black Health and Wellness?
A: Education regarding financial wellness is critical. It’s also imperative to know what health assistance is available to you and your loved ones. Educating others on the ramifications of going to a physician, or not going to one, and how it can lead to catastrophic outcomes for you and your family if you don’t, is necessary. Education in all forms is extremely important. When you know better, you do better. That may seem simple, but it is so true.
Craig Beazer serves as General Counsel at Lincoln Financial and oversees all activities for the legal, compliance, government relations and corporate secretary functions of the company. He also provides strategic counsel to the CEO, senior management team and board of directors.