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Dive In: Turning inclusion into reality

September 27, 2018

Although significant strides in driving diversity and inclusion have been made in the (re)insurance industry in recent years, barriers still remain.

According to data compiled by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) on talent and diversity in the insurance sector earlier this year, only 21 percent of executive and board positions are held by women, while industry workforce representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people stood at 16 percent.

As this year’s Dive In Festival highlights, it is now crucial that we encourage action across the industry to make more diverse and inclusive workplaces a reality. Quite simply, it is #time4inclusion.

For most organisations, talent represents a significant portion of total operating costs and therefore management will want to ensure that they optimise individual’s contributions.

Achieving this requires prioritising inclusion, in order to attract better talent and create an environment in which employees are engaged, feel a sense of belonging and are able to reach their full potential.

However, whilst companies have now digested and accepted the business case for “why”, many are still struggling with how to make the workplace more inclusive, particularly those businesses at the beginning of their D&I journey.

So what strategies can businesses employ to create a more diverse and inclusive environment?

 

Create a plan

Sharing his top tips for driving inclusion and diversity in Dive In’s 2018 event guide, Nicolas Aubert, Head of GB at Willis Towers Watson recommends establishing a long-term sustainable inclusion and diversity plan that contains strategies to increase underrepresented talent across all levels of the company, including leadership.

“Make sure there is a level playing field that creates opportunity for everyone and builds a welcoming and creative business environment,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Dr Kamel Hothi OBE, a non-executive director, advises CEOs to develop a clear statement policy on inclusion as a starting point.

“Articulating why, what and how it fits into the company’s overall objectives demonstrates a clear stamp of authority by the CEO, board and executives, all sponsoring a call for action” she said.

Following this, she says that it is important for leaders to understand their goals, what they want to achieve and how they will go about doing this “and, more importantly, how they cascade down the line, so everyone is clear on what success looks like and why” before creating an activation plan to support these objectives.

For companies at the very start of their D&I journey, Lloyd’s recommends drafting a D&I policy and put it online on the company intranet or website as a means of bringing the topic into focus, before moving onto setting out desired culture, values and behaviours.

 

Tackling unconscious bias

Raising awareness and educating and aligning employees on the importance of diversity and inclusion and how it affects them, their colleagues and the business is critical.

A major part of this includes tackling unconscious bias. People at all levels of an organisation are often unaware of the impact that unconscious beliefs and stereotypes can have on day-to-day business activities, particularly when it comes to recruiting, promoting and selecting future talent.

Whilst training can help alleviate this problem, it has been suggested that training alone is not enough and that there needs to be a greater focus on intervention.

Eames are proud to be early adopters of the Lloyd’s Inclusive Toolkit – an initiative to support businesses in overcoming the barriers found in recruitment and employment practice.

 

Make your employees feel supported and heard

Part of building an inclusive environment is making people feel valued, respected, supported and heard in the workplace.

As a means of addressing this, a number of companies across the insurance sector have established both D&I councils and employee resource groups (ERGs) that work hand-in-hand to shape policy and ensure the business is operating in line with best practice.

According to figures from the Dive In Festival’s website, 73 percent of market organisations it surveyed now have ERGs in place, compared with 35 percent in 2017.

Writing in Lloyd’s five step guide to diversity and inclusion, Aon’s UK head of D&I, Katherine Conway, defined ERGs as “groups that look out for the needs of colleagues right across the business. They’re support networks.”

“They help us drive the right culture, ensuring that we’re behaving inclusively and promoting the right people,” she added.

According to the company’s website, Aon has a number of ERGs, including Mental Health Network and Pride Alliance, which have been set up by volunteers and advise on policy development and products and solutions for clients, as well as providing networking opportunities for members.

The groups are managed by employees and representatives sit on its diversity council, which manages and champions inclusion and consists of senior executives, executive sponsors of the ERGs and representatives from HR and the ERGs themselves.

 

Measuring progress

Embedding diversity and inclusion isn’t a one-time fix. It requires monitoring by measuring and evaluating progress over the long-term.

According to the Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII) guide on promoting good equality and diversity practice, one method is to undertake a diversity audit which is a way of examining your diversity strategy, culture, systems and procedures against a framework.

“This can help you identify which aspects are working well and which need to be looked at in more detail”, it said, adding that employee surveys and staff suggestions are also cost-effective methods of measuring progress.

Meanwhile, Lloyd’s says that diversity scorecards can be helpful in providing a clear picture of the organisation, for goal and objective setting relating to diversity strategy, assessing and measuring progress against those goals, prioritising key areas of focus and initiatives, and communicating progress to wider stakeholders.


For further information on Dive In visit their website