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The route ahead for diversity, equity and inclusion in the insurance and long-term savings industry

iStock-460767093.jpgImproving diversity, equity and inclusion in the insurance and long-term savings industry is not a ‘nice to do’. It’s a must.

A workforce that reflects the diverse society that we serve paves the way for more creative and innovative thinking. It paves the way for better, more informed decision making. And it paves the way for happier, more engaged employees.

As an industry, we recognise that we need to do more. And we are committed to taking action. Today, I’m proud to unveil our DEI Blueprint. The first of its kind in the financial sector, setting out a three-year plan to drive improvement across the industry.

We’ve already made the first footprints on the path of change. From being the first trade association to adopt the government’s Women in Finance Charter, to launching a Transparent Parental Leave Charter, and our #MakingFlexibleWork campaign. And from members signing up to Business in the Community’s Race at Work charter, to pledging to double the number of apprentices by 2025. Our industry has made a start, but there’s still work to do. 

This Blueprint marks the foundations and strategy to transform the way our industry looks and feels. 

We have set ourselves three goals. First, to become the most diverse, equitable and inclusive sector of the UK economy. Second, to ensure that the 320,000 who work in insurance and long-term savings today reflect and represent the communities they serve. And third, to be transparent about the targets we are working towards and the progress we are making.

Aligned to these goals, our DEI Blueprint is organised under three themes:

Attracting the widest possible pool of talent

Today, our industry fails to attract talent from across society. For example, last year, ABI data shows that although the proportion of employees from ethnic minority background increased from 2 per cent to 5 per cent in executive teams, overall representation fell from 10 per cent to 9 per cent, largely due to decreases at entry level.

We aim to make our recruitment welcoming and accessible to all. Amongst a number of interventions to achieve this, we will harness the power of campaigns to showcase the diversity of our sector, and the opportunities within it. At the ABI, we will encourage at least 50 firms to sign up to the Government’s Disability Confident scheme, and all firms to review the inclusivity of their communications such as job adverts. We also want to work closely with networks that support people from a range of backgrounds and adapt our approaches based on their feedback. Supporting more people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those in ill health to join our sector and breaking down the barriers that can get in their way, is an ambition that’s particularly close to my heart.

I have gone through both good times and harder times throughout my life.

However, I have been fortunate with the opportunities I’ve had - through education but also serendipity. If I hadn’t loved learning as much as I did, giving me the will and drive to get to university, and without the encouragement to persevere through some of life’s challenges, I wouldn’t be where I am today. In an industry that I am so proud to represent.

That’s why creating opportunities through apprenticeships and getting out into schools and communities is such a core part of our Blueprint. We have to make sure that the possibility of a career in insurance and long-term savings is visible and open to everyone, everywhere.

Significant life events can hit you when you least expect it. So I’m pleased that our Blueprint also focuses on the need for guidance and access to external expertise, so that everyone can feel supported through the difficult times, whether that’s experiencing ill-health, bereavement, or any of the challenges life can throw at us.

By improving access to the industry, and support within this industry, we know that talented individuals who have a wealth of different experiences and skills to bring to our sector, won’t fall through the cracks.

This is a great sector to be a part of. We play a crucial role in securing people’s futures, whether we’re preparing for it, investing in it or innovating for it – providing customers with confidence and care is at our core. Let’s shout about it.

Growing and nurturing careers

Today, 48 per cent of entry level positions are held by women, but by senior management level this decreases to 36 per cent.

We will continue to develop a culture that allows everyone to achieve their full potential, regardless of their background or circumstance. That means building a diverse pipeline of talent across the sector, primed for the top jobs. Here, amongst other commitments, we want to increase signatories on each of the Women in Finance, Race at Work and Making Flexible Work charters to 50. We will also continue our work to foster a strong and diverse talent pipeline for the next generation of senior leaders through the ABI’s own Future Leaders programme.

We want to ensure we retain people at key moments in life where their situation might change, like parenthood or menopause, by offering tailored, practical support.

Advancing the cause for DEI

Today, our knowledge about DEI in our sector is piecemeal, with considerable gaps in the data that is gathered and analysed.

For example, just under half of the companies that participate in the ABI’s data collection said they either already capture or plan to capture some form of social mobility data. But with working class employees progressing 25 per cent slower than their wealthier peers, we need more information to understand the obstacles in their way and provoke change.

We will push for consistent metrics across our sector, and foster a new culture of transparency, promoting interventions to encourage more firms to collect and share data. We will develop guidance to encourage greater data sharing by employees, and we will encourage pay gap information to be published alongside narratives which explain the gap and action plans to address them, by 2025.

Whether its financial resilience or climate change, our sector has always aspired to be at the forefront of efforts to address societal challenges. Making the industry more diverse, equitable and inclusive is no exception. However, we cannot achieve this alone. There are leaders and organisations with a deep commitment to improve inclusivity both inside and outside of our sector. The goal of our Blueprint is to promote their work and find new partners in their endeavour, so that together we can make a real difference.

Let’s make the reputation that dogs our industry, and many others too, nothing more than a memory. By following this Blueprint, the UK’s insurance and long-term savings sector can strive to be the most diverse in the country. We will represent the communities that we serve. And we will be open about what we have achieved, and what we still have left to achieve.

Not only will this make ours a better industry to be a part of, it will make the industry itself better. Moreover, by serving our customers more effectively, we can have an even greater positive impact on society at large.

The Blueprint will turn that ambition into a reality, and it is one we are entirely committed to achieving.

This article originally appeared in Cover Magazine.



















Last updated 02/12/2022