Nationwide Denies Allegations of Less Support for Minority and Female Agents

May 8, 2006

Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Insurance says it is continuing to meet with current and former agents who allege the company does not provide the same level of marketing support for minority and female agents as it does for other agents.

The company said it has investigated the claims and has found they have no merit, an Associated Press story said.

The civil rights group Rainbow Push Coalition, which represented 10 agents in six states at Nationwide Financial Services’ annual meeting, claims minority and female agents were not given the same marketing resources, access to clients of retiring agents and had to meet tougher performance goals than other agents.

Nationwide Insurance and Nationwide Financial Services are part of Nationwide.

“Nationwide needs to treat this as a business imperative,” said Janice Mathis, director of the group’s Atlanta office. “We’re asking for a level playing field.”

Nationwide has met with the group several times during the past year and plans more meetings.

Spokesman Eric Hargove said Nationwide is committed to diversity and takes the agents’ claims seriously.

Nationwide Insurance paid $17.5 million in 2000 to settle claims that it refused to do business in certain neighborhoods. Fair housing advocates in Richmond, Va., accused Nationwide of discriminating against minorities when writing homeowners’ policies.

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