Diverse thinking: stay relevant with D&I

The pandemic has highlighted the need for strategic management of the changed workplace to ensure people continue to grow in their careers, and emphasised the importance of maintaining networks, according to Barbara Schönhofer, founder and chair of the ISC Group.

As we look back at 2020, it is fair to say that as an industry we have come to realise there are different ways of working that can be more efficient in our companies and businesses. The experience of last year has shown to many people that diverse thinking is important for their business to stay relevant.

We have also learned that people have been impacted in different ways depending on their home circumstances. Wellbeing is now recognised as more relevant to the work-life balance and the ability to contribute. Overall we have dropped the highly corporate approach, mucked in together and developed a much deeper understanding of each other.

For the ISC Group, working from home (WFH) in the wake of the pandemic has been game-changing for us and our members. It’s true that some can’t wait to get back to the office, but the majority have expressed their desire for a hybrid approach and want to build greater flexibility into work-life. No-one misses the commute on filthy and crowded trains or the international travel that eats into family time.

We have realised that changing work patterns need to be strategically managed for our members to continue to grow and thrive in their chosen careers. We know that while WFH presents opportunity, not being in the office can have negative impacts and requires diversity of thought in managing as well as a change in attitudes. Now more than ever, it is important to take note of relationships with colleagues and peers in the market as well as with clients and customers. It is important to continue to network.

At ISC Group, we have recognised this need and have taken the opportunity presented by the virtual world to connect more regularly with all our members. We have listened to their opinions, their dreams and their fears and have responded. We have created a completely online virtual platform so our members can continue to gain access to each other and our content to work on their personal, professional, and business development.

We recognised from the beginning that to serve our purpose of encouraging women in our sector we needed to reach out and support more women. We have recently opened our membership up to all women in insurance offering a number of our broadcasts and sessions free of charge as well as continuing our tailored services aimed at our executive, aspire and emerging members.

The pandemic has highlighted the need to embrace new approaches and as a new reality dawns we need diverse thinking more than ever to stay relevant as a profession and industry. We now know that the school of thought that said traditional work practices were the only and the best way to work is disproved.

“RISE members chair our six ISC working groups to engage with a range of initiatives to increase awareness.”
Barbara Schönhofer, ISC Group

Working together

Here at ISC Group, diverse thought is part of our DNA and like our member organisations we are committed to being more inclusive by promoting diversity in our forums and membership. Therefore, we have committed to achieving a 20 percent diversity representation in our speakers and our membership base.

Other developments include inviting male-only panels to discuss their attitudes and concerns with our members. Additionally, within the last few months, we have worked with RISE, a newly formed group of ISC Ambassadors and city women in the wake of COVID-19 to raise awareness of broader societal issues that the insurance sector can engage with and help answer. RISE members chair our six ISC working groups to engage with a range of initiatives to increase awareness and actions across the insurance industry.

The ISC working groups focus on better science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education for women; issues surrounding women working from home; dementia and the impact on women; the importance of neurodiversity in the insurance industry; racism and the challenges for women from ethnic minorities; and domestic abuse and its alarming rise in the wake of lockdown restrictions.

These working groups involving a range of our members come together every month to discuss, plan and to take action to enable us as an industry to make strides towards greater change.

I am extremely proud of the work we have been doing and encourage all women in the industry to get involved with ISC Group. The momentum is now unstoppable and we need you.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock / metamorworks

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