Re/insurers must embrace robust diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies if they are to remain relevant to their customers and it will, ultimately, also boost their bottom lines.
That was one of the main takeaways from a panel discussion “Unconscious bias: how to avoid missing diverse talent”. The discussion took place on Intelligent Insurer’s Re/insurance Lounge, an online platform where interviews and panel discussions are available on demand.
The event featured Rebecca Bole, head of industry engagement, CyberCube; Natasha Scotland Courcy, SVP, general counsel, co-chief operating officer, Athene Life Re, and board member of Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers; Matthew Connell, director of policy and public affairs, Chartered Insurance Institute (CII); Lara Pedley, UK director, ISC Group; and Michelle Johnson, chief talent & diversity officer, Palomar.
“We have to look at D&I in the re/insurance market, to remain relevant and create products that suit the market—it’s a crucial survival tactic,” said Bole.
She added that, as a leadership team member, she has had the opportunity not only to build the recruitment pool and build talent but also to see first-hand how important it is to build a culture of D&I that will be robust.
“By bringing different people together, you gain new ways of thinking and the opportunity to create solutions for new challenges. This can only have a direct and positive impact on the bottom line,” said Bole.
Scotland Courcy added that robust D&I policies are now a fundamental part of the industry. “Having an inclusive workforce culture provides multiple benefits to the employee base including a great deal of morale, as well as providing opportunities to the wider industry,” she said.
She added that it is important to ensure that a diverse range of talent feel included because their confidence and drive is crucial to business success.
According to Connell D&I is an important part of building trust in the industry because consumers simply cannot trust a sector that does not reflect them and their lived experiences.
“Understanding D&I is important because it’s as much a part of professionalism as technical expertise and following codes of conduct. Diverse thinking is impossible without a diverse workforce,” he said. “When you do not recruit across the whole of society, you lose the ability to self-regulate in your organisation and you miss opportunities.”
“By bringing different people together, you gain new ways of thinking.”
Rebecca Bole, CyberCube
The right products
Connell added that firms may even fail to produce the right kind of products for people because the organisation and its pool of employees have no understanding of their customers.
Johnson added that an organisation’s talent must be representative of the industry, as well as its clients. She was appointed chief talent and diversity officer of Palomar in January 2021, having previously served as senior vice president of people & talent.
“You need an organisation that is far more than just cognisant of D&I but also demonstrates that by building the right culture it can serve communities, teams and shareholders,” she said.
She added that the industry can sometimes erroneously miss the opportunity to recruit new and diverse talent.
“It can be about who you know, especially as you enter the workforce for the first time, which makes it challenging to spot new talent,” she said. “We need to bring in individuals from completely different industries to challenge the status quo,” said Johnson.
She added that it is important to drive change by widening the recruitment channel and putting a process in place to diversify the candidate pool.
“It takes courage to confront old ways of thinking but it should be a critical part of innovation,” she concluded.
To view the whole Re/insurance Lounge session click here
Image courtesy of Shutterstock / RachenArt
“We need to bring in individuals from completely different industries to challenge the status quo.”
Michelle Johnson, Palomar