BIBA 2021 Seminar 6 Equality, diversity and inclusion

19th May 2021

Chair – Jason Groves, Global Director of Media Relations, Marsh, & Chair, Dive In
Guests: Rob Anarfi, Global Head of Compliance, Beazley Group; Sima Ruparelia Chief Actuary, UK, Europe and Global Specialty, AIG; Barbara Schönhofer, Founder & Chair of ISC Group and Pauline Miller, Head of Culture, Lloyd’s.

The expert panel was made up of specialists from the insurance sector who are at the heart of diversity and inclusion (D&I) issues in the industry and have driven much change already.  They each shared personal experiences and provided inspiring and thought-provoking views on what our sector is doing in relation to D&I, offering practical advice about the resources that are available to help all businesses, not just the large, to keep the industry moving forward.

A key takeaway was that leadership and culture plays a major role in businesses being diverse and inclusive with it having to be embedded in the business from the top down.  Some memorable sound bites emerged from the session that will stick in the minds of those watching. Firstly the well-known quote from late and legendary management consultant Peter Drucker that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” so businesses need to look at their culture and this started at the very top of the organisation, and secondly that no-one should be made to feel that they are the ‘only one’ in their business, something that many of the panellists had experienced and felt strongly that no longer should be case.

The panel highlighted the diverse talent that the industry needs to attract including race, sexual preference, religion, gender and socioeconomic status. Sima Ruparelia stressed the importance of acknowledging that if you want D&I then you need to be inclusive of all walks of life and be aware of the conscious and non-obvious bias.  Referring to socioeconomic diversity, she outlined the need to attract talent in the regions and shared her own experience of having to move to London in order to pursue the kind or career she wanted, when she may well have preferred to stay closer to home for work.

Equity

Panellists were passionate about equity and fairness and in agreement that attracting diverse talent is essential for the industry because organisations must reflect the clients that they serve.   Pauline Miller summarised this by saying that we must be “ready to invite the world in, in order to be able to serve the world.” She emphasised how it is a powerful time and the world, society and the dialogue around D&I has changed. She stressed that everyone needs to be included, barriers need removing so that people can be treated based on the individual need that they have.

Courage

Barbara Schönhofer highlighted that woman and people from minority backgrounds operate differently.  She said that woman need to be able to come together in safe spaces and network and to gain courage to push themselves forwards.  The industry needed to engage with managers about how woman will respond to questions differently.  In the wake of the pandemic there is tremendous opportunity.

Sima Ruparelia agreed that courage was needed, but from leaders as well as individuals to respond differently.  “I’ve noticed that training courses are tailored to make us behave in the way our current leadership teams behave – which defeats the purpose, think about training courses, think about recruitment and let people be different.  If we don’t we will end up with people who have to conform.”

Business case

Clear business benefits came out of the discussion but when asked about the business case for D&I Rob Anarfi made a very strong and important point that a business case is asked for when it is considered that there is a risk involved with the introduction of an idea.  He asked who had put the business case together for the current lack of diversity that we have in our industry. He outlined that there was no business case for having poorer representation from communities or people from all backgrounds. He continued that it is simply not fair that the most diversity of colour in organisations is seen at the end of the day when people arrive to clean the buildings. He said that “If organisations don’t grasp the opportunity and start to make progress on their journey then they will lose clients and not be able to attract the best talent.”

Accountability

Accountability was seen as the silver bullet, Rob said that in his experience for change to happen then leaders who are passionate and serious are needed.  He announced the launch of a new group Race Action Through Leadership (RATL) which aims to increase the representation of Black, Asian, Mixed and other Minority Ethnic professionals at all levels of the insurance industry. It aims to get industry leaders to agree to actions that will bring about greater equality and to be held to account through progress reviews in the hope that we can move the industry forward on race.

Resources

The panel was keen to emphasise the vast range of resources available to businesses of all sizes to help them on their D&I journey, which did not have to cost a fortune to acquire and could be adapted.

Jason and Pauline encouraged wide industry participation in the annual Dive In festival at the end of September which attracts 30,000 globally.

Rob outlined the many cross industry networks including the multicultural insurance network ICAN that was founded four years ago.

Barbara highlighted that the Insurance Supper Club Group, which seeks to achieve equal opportunities for women in business, had made changes since the first lockdown and is providing support and help. She encouraged female networking saying that it is great deal about what career success is all about.

Pauline said that regardless of what size firm you are, that you can make a difference.  She flagged resources at https://inclusionatlloyds.com/ which has support on data collection and other areas including the five steps to D&I to get started all of which BIBA has promoted in its Manifesto and on the website.  She encouraged leaders to think about how they bring their authentic self to work and to ensure that they listen and understand their colleagues. Concluding the session, she reminded everyone what a fantastic industry we work in, encouraging everyone to spread the word to help attract the diverse talent that we crave.

Poll results

The audience was asked how important is it to the future of our industry to enhance the diversity of talent we can attract? 72% and 22% responded as extremely important and important respectively.

When asked if the most senior leaders in their organisations actively supports initiatives to promote inclusion and diversity 80% felt that they did.

View from the pundits

The session was followed by commentary from Huw Edwards and BIBA’s Steve White and Graeme Trudgill who felt it was a very productive session.

Graeme outlined that in BIBA’s Manifesto we have committed to promoting D&I to members of all sizes and that BIBA has signed the Women in Finance Charter, measuring year-on year how our management team is made up and how we can improve that.   He encouraged small members to do as much as possible and outlined the resource centre on BIBA’s website.

Steve continued that BIBA is making a raft of information about D&I available to members which included putting these sessions on to make experts available.

He emphasised the need for strong leadership in this area and for it to be part of an organisation’s culture.

It was rounded off with a well-placed analogy from Steve who quoted a BIBA young broker’s explanation of D&I as ‘diversity is being invited to party, but inclusion is being asked to dance’.