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What does it mean to be you with us – Ben Reichert

Relationship Management Director – member of Securian’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council and Pride ARG

I have been with Securian more than 15 years. In my role, I establish relationships with clients, focusing on client retention, product enhancements, benefits strategy, and overall client satisfaction.

Benjamin Reichert standing white background

I was born and raised in Minnesota, enjoying a typical northern suburban life. My parents, both retired now, were successful in their fields, my dad in sales, and my mom as a customs broker. They were good models for successful, hardworking people. My sister, also a Securian employee, lives on the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota with her husband and two daughters. My aunt works here also, adding a layer of family connection in addition to my co-workers.

I attended the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, majoring in—wait for it—biomedical science, obviously unrelated to anything I’m doing now. I planned to become a veterinarian, but college pushed me in new directions, and my priorities shifted a bit.

I also studied abroad in a program called Wisconsin in Scotland. The professors there were from U of W colleges, as were all the students. Students lived in fraternity-styled housing, referred to as the “palace,” which is also where classes took place. The atmosphere was like a reality TV show. We had a four-day school week which allowed us to travel around Europe on the long weekends. Learning about different cultures and lifestyles was a benefit of living overseas. That experience has helped me as an Account Executive, and now as a Relationship Manager, here at Securian.

Securian was my first permanent job after taking a few temp jobs after college. I started in an entry-level position as a Group Plan Representative, processing life insurance applications and answering calls. I handled employee requests with 30 percent of my time dedicated to the call center. I eventually transitioned into an Implementation Manager role, working with our new group life clients for six to 12 months. Once the onboarding was complete, clients were handed off to the account manager for support. I learned a lot in those roles about how the departments work together in a robust and cohesive way, and I enjoyed building a relationship with our clients and channel partners within that implementation role. This was a significant reason I was drawn to the Account Executive role. In my current position, I’m responsible for 18 client account relationships, including strategy and growth and keeping their benefits plan up to date.

Outside of my formal role, I am a member of Securian’s Associate Resource Group (ARG) Pride, previously co-leading it for two years, and a member of Securian’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council.

Benjamin Reichert seated environmental

When I started my career at Securian, I identified as a straight man and was married. During our marriage, I learned more about who I was, and after seven years, she and I decided to part ways. Shortly after that relationship ended, and about six years into my employment here, I came out as gay. Not by making a speech, but by being myself and not shying away from it. Overall, it’s been well-received. I admit to some hesitation, especially when I first came out, unsure of how I would be received. I sat down with my supervisor to discuss my status and promotion opportunities and was assured that being gay was not an issue regarding my future here. And in more than nine years since I came out, that has proven true.

Coming out as a gay person means you’re continuously coming out, and how much to reveal and to whom is always a consideration. A person’s religion and sexuality aren’t necessarily apparent, unlike gender or race. I can shield myself depending on the environment I’m in. So public perception becomes something I’m more aware of in both my work life and private life. I’ve been in a relationship with my partner for more than eight years. Sometimes blind dates do work out! While our relationship is an important part of my life, I weigh whether and how much to share about my sexuality and relationship, especially in my client-facing persona at Securian. In most places, I’m just this white guy. I can be a “passing person” if I need to be. As a kid, I didn't see or know people like me, so I knew the importance of genuine representation. That being said, how I present myself continues to be a factor I consider, not due to my feelings about my identity but others' reactions.

There doesn’t seem to be much queer representation within leadership or the company. In surveys, we’re given the option to self-identify as queer, but the percentage of those who do is really low. Some don’t identify because they worry about what that means in the workplace, or they don’t want to have that as part of their work life, which makes sense. Most people in the Pride group identify as straight or allies. Some members have queer children, and Securian has the Proud Parents Group to support families with kids who may be going through similar experiences. It’s a great community for the parents at Securian. You get the sense that there are many allies out there.

Even within the gay experience, I only have my particular lens. Having more diverse voices provides the opportunity to lift other people along the way.

Ben Reichert

Benjamin Reichert standing environmental

Securian is actively working to improve diversity and become more inclusive, and it is definitely more diverse than when I started here 15 years ago. I am proud of the work Securian has done, like increasing pride representation during June for Pride Month, participating in the HRC Corporate Equality Index and receiving a score of 100 for the first time, and investing in updating workspaces to include gender-neutral bathrooms. Of course, there is always room for improvement, and more work needs to be done. Companies must be intentional when recruiting, such as reaching out to diverse colleges and attending job fairs that typically attract a diverse audience. As a gay person, I have participated in some recruiting efforts and am happy to lend my voice. But I can’t speak for the entire LGBTQIA+ community at Securian as I only represent one of those letters. Even within the gay experience, I only have my particular lens. Having more diverse voices provides the opportunity to lift other people along the way.

Employers also must be aware of what’s happening in the world, such as court decisions and legislation that negatively impacts certain groups. It’s a weird time in America. It appears diversity is going backward, and issues related to equality are driving us apart. Companies should be a place for equity and inclusion no matter what the state legislatures say. Employees should be able to rely on their employer for services and protections they may not get in the city they live in. Making decisions and sticking to something that pushes diversity and equality forward is a matter of choice. That’s what employees want, and Securian clients more and more expect.

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Ben Reichert is a Securian Financial employee and therefore has a financial connection to Securian Financial. His statement was given freely.

DOFU 4-2024