Diversity, equity and inclusion at the core

In working to improve D&I, RenaissanceRe recognises the benefits for individuals, society and the company, as three of its key diversity leaders explain to Intelligent Insurer.

Throughout the re/insurance industry there is a growing awareness not only of the ethical and social importance of having a diverse workforce, but also the business benefits.

“Socially and fiscally, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a business imperative for any company,” says Ross Curtis, the company’s EVP & group chief underwriting officer and chair of its Global DEI Council, which focuses on executing the company’s DEI strategy and further embedding RenaissanceRe’s principles of DEI into its daily practices.

“We are committed to fostering an environment with diversity at all levels of the organisation, and regularly update our board on our progress,” he says.

Central to its work is the understanding that the company’s people and ways of operating underpin its culture and its success.

“At RenaissanceRe, our team is deeply committed to protecting and nurturing this, in part through our DEI efforts,” says Curtis.

There are several aspects of this: first, a focus on attracting, hiring, retaining and developing the best talent available.

“As RenaissanceRe has expanded our global platforms over the years, we’ve welcomed colleagues at different stages of their careers, who bring a variety of professional and personal experiences,” says Curtis.

“This ever-broader range of perspectives make us a stronger, more seasoned organisation, and retaining our inclusive mindset allows us to leverage our collective expertise as we continue to grow and develop.”

“We want to be sure that our team is reflective and representative of our marketplace and stakeholders.”
Ross Curtis

Second, the company believes it is essential to be able to operate effectively and forge successful relationships in the global markets in which it operates.

“As we support and partner with clients in more parts of the world, we want to be sure that our team is reflective and representative of our marketplace and stakeholders,” says Curtis.

“Our investors and regulators have a heightened expectation of social responsibility and good DEI governance, and our continued leadership in this area will aid RenaissanceRe’s ability to transact across our financial and business markets.”

Third, the company aims to continue to make strategic decisions that reflect the experiences of its increasingly diverse clients and partners.

“Our industry is continually evolving, as it helps to solve and address some of the world’s major problems,” says Curtis. “It is important to have a team that is not only reflective of our largest markets and client segments but also has diverse backgrounds, skills and experiences to help us innovate and anticipate or respond to changes in both our industry and shifting global dynamics.”

“We have applied a DEI lens to the selection process for our leadership and management development programmes.”
Ann Manal

Practical steps

RenaissanceRe’s DEI programme has been constructed to align with its culture and to provide a thoughtful and thorough approach to learning and discussing important DEI topics.

Its DEI efforts are led from the top and, alongside Curtis and chief executive officer Kevin O’Donnell is Ann Manal, SVP & chief human resources officer, who is one of the three global sponsors for DEI at RenaissanceRe driving its “Think Global, Act Local” framework.

The work includes global staff keynote presentations and thought leadership from external experts; training to build awareness and shared skills across its global team; and local conversations and interactive discussions in each office to apply what has been learned and to discuss topics unique to different countries.

“In 2020 these included unconscious bias and allyship and in 2021 we are planning to spotlight mental health and wellness, prejudice and stereotypes,” says Manal.

“We are focused on further embedding DEI principles into every stage of our employee lifecycle. For example, to ensure our recruitment and selection practices are free of bias and encourage qualified candidates to apply regardless of their background, we have invested in language and content guidance software for our employment opportunity advertisements.

“To foster diverse talent, we have applied a DEI lens to the selection process for our leadership and management development programmes. In our annual performance management process, every team member has a DEI goal to make sure we are all focused on this as a strategic imperative for our organisation.”

In terms of partnerships, RenaissanceRe is a long-term global sponsor of the Dive In Festival, which promotes DEI in the insurance industry, and has hosted events across Bermuda, London, and Switzerland on topics such as the importance of identifying, recruiting and retaining diverse voices.

The company has signed the Inclusive Behaviours Pledge spearheaded by Lloyd’s and Zurich to demonstrate its commitment to a culture where inclusive behaviours are the norm and where everyone is accepting of diversity, and has actively engaged in the award-winning technology sector initiative, Women ReBOOT, to help women develop the skills, competence, and confidence to return to work after a career break.

“We have supported several women through this scheme and made fantastic permanent hires as a result of our involvement,” says Manal. “We plan to continue the organisational awareness work as well as continue to embed our DEI principles into our culture and day-to-day work.

“We recognise that long-lasting change cannot happen overnight, so we are trying to think through what actions will become part of who we are.”

“We need to be aware of issues such as unconscious bias and be open to difficult discussions.”
Fiona Walden

Local impact

The impact of these efforts is being seen at every level of the company—globally as well as locally, according to Fiona Walden, former chair of the Bermuda DEI Local Council and current member of the Global DEI Council. She is also SVP & global head of credit underwriting.

“Each of our offices focuses on different aspects of DEI, depending on regional dynamics, which allows local application of our global DEI principles,” she says. “When I moved to Bermuda three years ago from the UK, it was key for me to understand Bermuda’s history, people and culture, so we could make strides on the DEI front within the workplace here.

“Bermuda is a smaller market and community than London, so the impact of conversations and change is perhaps more immediate.

“Listening, understanding others, and making positive shifts in approach will drive progress on the DEI front, and it’s encouraging to see more regular practice of these attributes, both locally and overseas.”

Walden’s experiences have made her feel positive about the ground that has been gained, although she knows there is still more to be achieved within the industry as a whole.

“As an industry we have come a long way in our DEI journey,” she says. “Things look very different from when I entered the market.

“Saying that, we must continue to seek diversity and create equity by embedding DEI within our DNA, whether that be through industry-wide mentoring schemes, events such as the Dive In Festival or more active participation in cross-industry bodies such as the 30% Club [a global campaign led by chairs and CEOs taking action to increase gender diversity at board and senior management levels].

“When I joined reinsurance from the legal profession, the industry workforce was pretty homogeneous in terms of gender, race and cultural background. That’s changing now and diversity is increasing across all levels of organisations.

“In order to build on this, we need to be aware of issues such as unconscious bias and be open to difficult discussions. I am excited about what we can all achieve for DEI.”

Visit the ESG section of the RenaissanceRe website here

Video courtesy of Adobe Stock / olehslepchenko. Image courtesy of Shutterstock /

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