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Diversity of thought and background is essential for insurance industry’s success

Huw EvansToday marks the start of London’s Dive In festival to promote diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry. It is a great celebration of the work our sector is doing to get better at supporting talent from all backgrounds. However, the fact that we need a festival says it all; we still have a long way to go, whether that’s representation of women in leadership roles, perception among graduates or inclusiveness to minorities.

Dive In takes inspiration from those outside our sector and I am delighted to be involved this year interviewing former Rugby World Cup winner, Ben Cohen, who has done a lot of work to stand up against bullying, particularly for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. If we are not inclusive, we have the wrong culture. We will not attract and retain the right people and we will not be reflective of our customer base.

I strongly believe that diversity needs to be front and centre for business.

Improving the insurance sector’s diversity and inclusion is not just a ‘nice to have’, but central to its future success. At a recent ABI event for new entrants to the insurance industry, I challenged them not to settle for the status quo and to constantly question how we can do things better. But these young professionals also need to be supported by inclusive leadership, and different types of people need to be better supported into leadership roles.

So at the ABI, as signatories to the Women in Finance Charter we have made commitments to ensure gender balance in the senior management pipeline. We have set targets for the number of women in our management team, will be demanding gender balanced long-lists from recruiters for management roles and have a benchmark for the number of people who return back to work from maternity or shared parental leave.

And for the wider industry, as part of the HeForShe launch earlier this month – an insurance offshoot of the global campaign for gender parity – I made a personal pledge to mentor two women from our young professionals programme and the ABI Future Leaders executive development programme. It is seemingly small efforts like this, alongside more radical approaches that will bring about the change the needed.

I strongly believe that diversity needs to be front and centre for business. So it is great to see effort across the industry to put it there. Our sector plays an important societal role in protecting and helping people invest for their futures, and having diversity of thought and background in our businesses should go hand-in-hand with that.

Last updated 27/09/2016