A major takeaway of 2020 is the recognition that we are making a change of a magnitude greater and more frequent than anyone expected. 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, equality and inclusion (DEI) at all levels of their businesses.
The business case for DEI is stronger than ever. Studies by McKinsey & Company and The Wall Street Journal show that companies with greater diversity outperform their competitors by delivering better business results, more innovation and higher profits.
Reinforcing this knowledge are the after-effects of the world-changing events in 2020. George Floyd's death shone a much-needed spotlight on the experience of ethnic and racial minorities in many countries, reminding us that we need to move beyond verbal commitments – to take the necessary steps to bring about positive change and level the playing field.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the inequalities and vulnerabilities in our current systems, allowing us to regroup and consider how to "build better". by reducing our environmental impact, tackling inequality and creating a more inclusive society.
This heightened awareness of DEI in our business and personal lives has united the industry. By the start of 2021, we need to recognize that while diversity, equity and inclusion are related concepts, they can have different results if not properly aligned. Let this be the year that each of us makes a more powerful commitment to DEI by aligning goals and taking actionable, measurable steps toward impactful and sustainable change.
This kind of change requires planning and hard work. We took up the challenge at Lloyd & # 39; s, which, through our market model, brings together capital and talent on a platform of more than 85 syndicates.
DEI actions taken in the past 18 months include:
- Launch of an annual culture survey assessing the attitudes and experiences of thousands of participants in our market. We used the early results to create a gender balance plan, business behavioral standards, and a culture dashboard to track our progress.
- Set an intermediate target of 35% female representation in leadership positions and 20% on boards and executive committees by the end of 2023.
- We also want to increase the representation of black and ethnic minority colleagues in leadership roles by using data to support this goal and setting an ethnicity target for the second quarter.
- We have taken steps to improve the experience of black and minority ethnic talent in our market, creating an Accelerate program to attract, retain and develop this talent, reviewing policies to ensure that they do not be racist, provide financial support to organizations that encourage opportunities and inclusion and develop a long-term action plan to hold us accountable. And we will continue to support Dive In, the annual global festival for DEI in insurance that began in 2015 and grew to more than 30,000 delegates this year.
In this new year, industry peers around the world must challenge themselves to accelerate the development of a culture where everyone can be successful by following industry best practices, including:
- Continue to prioritize mental health and the invisibility of a disability to leadership.
- Harnessing the power of flexible working while recognizing that previous efforts to promote DEI could have been temporarily put aside by the pandemic.
- Finding more ways to celebrate and embrace the positive impact of all colleagues 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 have listed focus on the leadership level, it takes people at every level of an organization to build a more inclusive culture. Whether you're just starting out or an industry veteran, you have a role to play in the transformation.
Organizations such as the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) are providing 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 fireplace chat with 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 industry events in 2021 and beyond will help turn ideas into action.
As we move through 2021, we want to reflect on the aspects of DEI that enable everyone to engage themselves and unique experiences for our shared challenges. We will succeed to the extent that we are able to attract and retain people of a wide variety of backgrounds, gender and ethnicity. Creating a work culture that celebrates differences and encourages everyone to be their best is a New Year's resolution that we can all be proud of.
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