Diversity And Inclusion In The Insurance Market: It’s Time To Walk The Walk
BY ALLY REDDING
Diversity and inclusion is a hot topic in our industry
The end of September saw the fourth DiveIn festival, with events around the globe held to explore the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The festival kicked off a two-year campaign, “Awareness into Action,” aimed at doing just that – taking the increased awareness in our industry of the need for, and benefits of, greater diversity and inclusion in our marketplace and making it happen. The big question for many organisations of course, is how?
I believe that it is possible to embed diversity and inclusion into corporate DNA. And it might not be as hard as it sounds.
Why encourage greater D&I?
Firstly, let’s think about why we need better diversity and inclusion in our sector. It is a good thing to do, of course. But it isn’t just the right thing to do – it is also the smart thing to do. It makes huge business sense.
Diversity is about the range of human difference, both seen and unseen, and inclusion is about creating an environment where those different types of people can thrive and succeed.
Our industry recognises that it needs to innovate and adapt in order to remain competitive and provide meaningful solutions to our clients, whose own industries are evolving too.
Diversity in the workforce encourages and engenders diversity of thought. Simply put, different people bring different ideas.
The innovation theorist Steven Johnson contends that the Enlightenment began in the coffee houses of Europe where ideas were shared in a relaxed atmosphere. Our industry, of course, owes much of its origins to a coffee house too. We need to find ways to enable people to share their thoughts and their ideas to create innovation and drive change.
And studies have shown that those companies with a more diverse workforce have greater success in breaking into new markets.
A report by McKinsey found that companies with greater diversity were more likely to achieve above-average profitability for their sector; it is hard to argue with that as an imperative to improve D&I!
For millennial employees, diversity and inclusion is a given; the expectation of the young people that we need to attract into our market is that companies will be diverse, that there will be people on the board who look and talk like them.
Where is the work to be done?
The past few years has seen our industry make great strides towards improving diversity and inclusion.
Inga Beale, the former CEO of Lloyd’s, that venerable institution and bastion of tradition, is a woman and a LGBTQ+ advocate – a visible face that bucks the pale, male and stale stereotype that has dogged our industry for too long.
Initiatives such as DiveIn have increased awareness and really got companies talking about this – at the very highest levels.
Many insurance industry CEOs have signed the “We’re all in for inclusivity pledge.” There has been lots of noise from the very highest level about the need for our industry to tackle its D&I “problem.”
Our industry should be proud of the way it has raised awareness of the need for better diversity and inclusion. But a quick look at some statistics shows there is still a long way to go.
In its 2017 report, the Chartered Insurance Industry revealed that our industry’s gender pay gap is about twice the national average. The insurance sector’s average median gender pay gap is about 30%, putting us way behind other industry sectors.
In its latest “Holding up the Mirror” report, Inclusion@Lloyd’s found that some 37% of respondents said their firm did not have an active D&I policy in place.
Awareness has been raised of the need to improve diversity and inclusion in insurance. But we come back to that theme again – turning awareness into action.
So how do we do it?
This might seem like a very big problem to tackle, but I believe there are some relatively easy ways that companies in the insurance sector can embed D&I.
Companies in our sector are taking steps to address the issue. Some now have diverse hiring slates, and many have D&I committees, for example.
Buy-in from the CEO and top management is key, of course. This must be something that we actually do, rather than pay lip service to.
At JDX, we have practices that attract a diverse workforce that we believe could be mirrored in many of the organisations we visit and work with.
We are a young – and fast-growing – organisation.
You could argue that this makes it easier to be diverse, and perhaps that is true – our culture is less entrenched than that of organisations that can date their origins back hundreds of years. But we are diverse by design.
For example, when we hire, we have no preconceived idea of whom to hire. We simply pick the best person for the job. We truly value diversity of values and thought leadership.
That might sound woolly. But as we grow we are focused on tangible actions to support diversity.
We are a relatively flat organisation without layers of bureaucracy. This means there are close ties between the business leaders and other employees and helps to foster a responsive culture that we extend outwards to our clients.
Our Diversity in Business committee produces a quarterly newsletter and hosts events to highlight diversity issues; the next will cover topics such as the generation gap, non-native communities and unconscious bias.
Starting from the ground-up, from the moment a hire is made, will enable companies in the insurance sector insurance to build a more diverse culture. And this begins to become a self-fulfilling prophecy – the more diverse your culture the more attractive you become to a diverse talent base.
There may be a longish road ahead, but it is time to start walking the walk.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ally Redding
During the last year, Ally was tasked with supporting the growth and running of the insurance business and currently looks after existing clients and partners, people management and delivery oversight for all insurance project teams and working closely with senior management on the business strategy.
On joining JDX, Ally spent over a year working on multiple projects across the London Market supporting with bordereaux management in the lead up to Solvency II, delivering insurance technology proof of concepts and completing the JDX Academy and Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner qualifications.