A key takeaway from 2020 is the acknowledgement that change of a magnitude greater and more frequent than anyone had anticipated is upon us. One of the best ways for insurers and their business partners to embrace this momentum in 2021 is to take steps now to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at all levels of their companies.
The business case for DEI is stronger than ever. Studies from McKinsey & Company and The Wall Street Journal show that companies with greater levels of diversity outperform their peers, delivering better operating results, increased innovation and improved profits.
Bolstering this knowledge are the after-effects of 2020’s world-changing events. The death of George Floyd shined a much-needed spotlight on the experience of ethnic and racial minorities in many countries, reminding us of the need to go beyond verbal commitments – to take the steps needed to make positive change happen and level the playing field. The COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the inequalities and vulnerabilities in our current systems, allowing us to regroup and consider how we can “build back better,” by reducing our environmental impacts, tackling inequality and creating a more inclusive society.
This heightened awareness of DEI in our business and personal lives has united the industry. As we start 2021, we must recognize that while diversity, equity and inclusion are related concepts, they can have differing outcomes if not properly aligned. Let this be the year each of us makes a bolder commitment to DEI by aligning goals and taking actionable, measurable steps toward impactful and sustainable change.
This type of change takes planning and hard work. We’ve accepted the challenge at Lloyd’s, which through our market model, convenes capital and talent on a platform hosting more than 85 syndicates.
DEI actions taken over the past 18 months include:
- Launch of an annual Culture Survey that assesses the attitudes and experiences of thousands of participants in our market. We used the initial results to create a Gender Balance Plan, Standards of Business Conduct and a Culture Dashboard to track our progress.
- Setting an interim target of 35% female representation in leadership positions and 20% on boards and executive committees by the end of 2023.
We’re also looking to increase the representation of black and ethnic minority colleagues in leadership roles, using data to inform this goal and establishing a target for ethnicity during the second quarter.
We’ve taken steps to improve the experience of black and minority ethnic talent across our market, creating an Accelerate Program to attract, retain and develop this talent, reviewing policies to ensure they’re non-racist, providing financial support to organizations that encourage opportunity and inclusion and developing a long-term action plan to hold us accountable. And we continue to support Dive In, the annual worldwide festival for DEI in insurance that started in 2015 and this year grew to more than 30,000 delegates.
In this new year, industry colleagues worldwide should challenge themselves to accelerate the development of a culture in which everyone can be successful by following industry best practices, including:
- Continuing to prioritize mental health and the invisibility of disability to leadership.
- Harnessing the power of flexible working while acknowledging how previous efforts to advance DEI might have been set aside temporarily by the pandemic.
- Finding more ways to celebrate and embrace the positive impact all colleagues have on our business.
- Leveraging the diversity found in college and university-level risk management programs to attract and recruit a new generation of insurance professionals.
While many of the goals and best practices I’ve mentioned focus on the leadership level, it takes people at every tier of an organization to build a more inclusive culture. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an industry veteran, you have a part to play in the transformation.
‘In this new year, industry colleagues worldwide should challenge themselves to accelerate the development of a culture in which everyone can be successful …’
Organizations like the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) offer many resources and events, including the upcoming International Inclusion in Insurance Forum in June, to facilitate the DEI conversation. In March, IICF’s Boston Chapter will host a fireside chat featuring organizational psychologist and workplace inclusion champion John Amaechi, who in 2007 became the first National Basketball Association player to speak publicly about being gay. These and other DEI events across the industry in 2021 and beyond will help advance ideas into action.
As we move through 2021, we’ll want to reflect on the aspects of DEI that enable everyone to bring their whole selves and unique experiences to bear on our shared challenges. We’ll succeed to the extent we’re able to attract and retain people from a broad range of backgrounds, gender and ethnicity. Creating a work culture that celebrates differences and encourages everyone to be their best self is one New Year’s resolution we can all be proud of achieving.
Watkins is regional director and president of the Americas, Lloyd’s, responsible for the U.S., Canada and Latin America. He is also the newly named Chair of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) International Board of Governors.
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