Time A panel discussion on ethnic diversity chaired by Maxine Goddard (Pictured), Senior Vice President, Strategic Distribution and Development Sompo Internationally, insurance professionals provide their insights on how employers can prevent the creation of a more inclusive workplace culture. Exploring some of these concerns, Goddard noted that recruitment bias is a significant concern in the industry.
“Employers will tell us they’re just messengers,” he said. “Recruitment companies will say it’s the hiring managers who do the screening. So, we need to be honest with ourselves – what’s going on in our own organization? Where’s the barrier? Where is the barrier? Bullying [is another issue]In many cases, it is not micro-aggression, it is aggression. And it’s not just about race, of course. But in the case of alliances, it shows why talking and really taking a position is so important. ”
Goddard highlights that inclusion is a real concern for the insurance sector. He said people need to get along well with each other, and while there has been a lot of discussion about kindness in the profession, especially in the last 12 to 18 months, it needs to be translated more.
Reverse mentoring is an issue on which many organizations rely for inclusive development, he said, adding that sometimes the only way C-Suite executives have the opportunity to interact with more diverse people. However, it should be recognized that it can be really annoying for an individual to instruct their leader on something that should actually be within that leader’s self-education.
Adding his thoughts to the discussion, David Otudeco, ABI’s chief assistant director of prudent control, said he believes the financial services profession can focus too much on the simple elements of difficult inclusive conversations. He said it’s easy to see what companies are doing well, and where things like gender balance or race are being entered but things like cognitive diversity run the risk of becoming more difficult to measure.
“And that’s where a business gains from a diversity by hitting the rubber road,” he said. “Because you want people to think differently, you want people to have a different perspective on the debate. We’re talking about diversity and inclusion. [being] Spectrum, diversity at one end and inclusion at the other end but we don’t talk about equality in the middle. You have many programs called D&I programs but how do you go from a diversified business to an inclusive business? You have to consider how you break down the barriers that prevent inclusion and that’s where equity comes in. ”
He said diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are so important, and when it comes to examining the requirements of DEI, as a financial person it can be very tempting to focus solely on numbers. And in the case of a business that has a truly diverse workforce, the statistics reveal how it grows at the bottom line, which in turn can attract the attention of a CFO or finance manager. But Otudeco highlighted that these conversations need to go beyond diversity because it’s a financially rewarding thing, acknowledging that it’s also the right thing to do.
The reality is that no one is really an expert on DEI, he said, and the only way to deal with these problems is for people to be honest about it. Businesses and individuals can talk as much as they want about their good things but no one knows everything, and provoking real change means putting together their knowledge and resources for everyone.
Otudeco, for example, said the financial services industry is looking at steps that can be taken to address the financial risks of climate change. When it comes to finding solutions to the most difficult parts of that challenge, financial services companies, supported by their regulators, form the Climate Financial Risk Forum to exchange knowledge and share new ideas.
“I don’t think it’s too much to say that we should probably do the same thing for diversity and inclusion,” he said. “Because everyone has a good idea and everyone does something. And basically the only way we can get it where we want to get it is to put our heads together and share exactly what works in each organization and then make it useful to our population.
“So there’s a lot of frustration. I’m glad the industry is definitely moving forward. I’m glad we started the conversation but I think we have a lot of absences that we’re probably missing and that’s probably because the bits we’re not doing very well. “
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