The death in 2020 of George Floyd in the US and the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests that followed showed the depth of anger and concern about inequality in wider society. From cognitive diversity and innovation, to gaining a competitive edge, the benefits and business case for greater levels of diversity and inclusion (D&I) are clear and have been made many times over.
With D&I high on the agenda for re/insurers in 2021, Intelligent Insurer has selected its top 25 D&I champions in the re/insurance industry to showcase leaders who are making a mark in this area. Methodology
The top 25 D&I champions, who appear in alphabetical order, were chosen for their leadership, achievements and efforts in supporting and promoting D&I in their organisations and in the wider re/insurance market.
Global head of compliance, Beazley
As the D&I Steering Group chair until January 2020, Rob Anarfi was at the forefront of Beazley’s efforts to increase female representation at leadership level and representation from other diverse groups, notably on LGBT+.
He was a keen advocate of making Beazley’s leaders and managers ‘the silver bullet’ for D&I, saying that if you can get a leader or manager to travel the journey themselves, the work is done. Support for leaders came in the form of training. He says he was also conscious of creating a truly inclusive environment without alienating other valued employees.
He has since passed the baton of Steering Group chair to a colleague and now leads the company’s race and ethnicity network and has helped design and implement a strategy for a stronger focus on race & ethnicity.
Diversity & inclusion manager, Talanx Group
Raha Anssari officially takes up her new post as diversity & inclusion manager at Talanx Group on March 1, 2021, but she was no stranger to D&I prior to her appointment. She has been with Talanx since 2013, and most recently worked on HDI Deutschland’s strategy team with responsibility for issues of agility and diversity. Born in Iran, she grew up in Germany after arriving in the country with her family as a political refugee.
One of her priorities as D&I manager will be to develop a new diversity strategy for the Talanx and HDI Group in Germany, as well as promoting the recognition, appreciation and integration of diversity into the group’s business culture and creating a working environment free of biases.
Chief executive officer, Aviva
As chair of the Aviva’s Global Inclusion Council, Amanda Blanc has a key window into the company’s D&I commitments and the progress towards them. Aviva has a wide range of commitments including its ‘Aviva Communities’ designed to boost inclusiveness at the insurer.
The employer has established six global employee groups to bring together a wide range of support networks from across the business including mentor programmes, scholarship schemes and social awareness campaigns.
EVP & global diversity, equity & inclusion officer, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group
Under Dawn Frazier-Bohnert’s D&I leadership, Liberty Mutual has been recognised as one of the best workplaces for parents by Great Place to Work US. The insurer also won a Boston Women’s Workforce Council ‘Innovative Initiative Award’ for its ‘We@Liberty Women and Allies’ employee resource group’s self-care series.
These groups are designed to bring employees from different backgrounds together while fostering an inclusive culture.
The insurer has established a multi-year diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan which sets out goals to increase DEI at the company.
Head of industry engagement, CyberCube
As a senior female leader in the industry, Rebecca Bole says D&I are key to creating a “potent cocktail” of talent to tackle the complex demands of cyber risk. As a female leader working across two still predominantly male-led industries (insurance and technology), Bole is clear that cognitive diversity, supported by hiring diverse talent, is hugely valuable in the re/insurance industry and it is something she champions in her own business.
At CyberCube Bole leads a programme of initiatives around gender diversity including attracting the best talent; supporting diverse talent, and building paths to advance that talent.
Group chief operations officer, Swiss Re
Anette Bronder has placed a strong focus on inclusion, through the widespread implementation of agile working (globally for all operations units of Swiss Re), reducing hierarchies and fostering an inclusive leadership approach among its operations employees.
In 2020 Swiss Re successfully took a big step forward, by supporting, promoting and hiring women in various key leadership positions at the reinsurer, with a focus on those in roles in technology and legal areas. Bronder personally contributes to and sponsors the promotion of women and female entrepreneurship in the context of startups in Switzerland, for example by supporting the first ‘FemBiz’ award in Switzerland as a founding member and judge.
Chief executive officer, Aon
In 2020, Greg Case was named the number one ally on the Involve Outstanding LGBT+ Ally Executives list, which recognises people who are driving workplace inclusion. Under his leadership Aon achieved recognition with the 2020 Financial Times’ annual Diversity Leaders ranking for the second consecutive year and Stonewall named Aon in its 2020 Top 100 Employers list.
Guided by Case’s co-sponsorship, Aon formed the Global Inclusive Leadership Council comprising 21 colleagues who champion D&I. The council provides advice, recommendations and accountability for Aon’s D&I strategy and related actions.
Founder and chief executive officer, Protecdiv
Kael Coleman has been an active champion of D&I throughout his career, including forming the Racial & Ethnic Diversity Employee Resource Group when he worked at Guy Carpenter in 2010.
He led the Philadelphia chapter of the National African American Insurance Association in 2013, and while employed at Willis Towers Watson in 2016, he helped its D&I committees transform from celebratory to action-oriented to deliver new opportunities to employees.
Coleman founded Protecdiv in 2020 to address the need for increased supplier diversity in the US. Protecdiv is the first tier one minority-led insurance and reinsurance brokerage and it aims to expand its employee-base to have the most diverse workforce in the industry.
Natasha Scotland Courcy
SVP, general counsel, co-chief operating officer, and chief compliance officer, Athene Life Re
Natasha Scotland Courcy is a strong advocate of D&I as a business necessity. At Athene Life Re, she leads the company’s Bermuda office and Bermuda operations and she is on the board of BILTIR, the re/insurance industry trade group, as well as chairing its legal and regulatory committee.
Scotland Courcy supports D&I education initiatives, and says that having a culture where employees feel included is critical to a company’s bottom line as well as its reputation in the market and in terms of attracting future talent. She says that more people, and younger people particularly, want to work for an inclusive and diverse organisation.
Senior project manager, London Market Group
Rachel Crocker is responsible for running the talent and diversity workstream at the London Market Group (LMG). She has focused on understanding what the London Market can do to find and attract more diverse talent and make sure that it is a place that includes everybody.
She is clear that there are still steps the LMG and wider insurance sector needs to take to increase D&I. The LMG’s 2020 “London Matters” report revealed that the gender split across the Market has levelled out but, as Crocker highlights, a lot more still needs to be done.
She says that reports like this are vital for reflection and assessment of what needs to be done to reach equality and greater D&I to ensure people can bring their whole selves to work.
Chief executive officer, Allianz
Jon Dye says D&I isn’t something that should be separate from the business, owned by a few people or the HR team. He is clear that D&I should be embedded in a company’s culture and put right at the heart of its strategy.
To support this, Allianz has a number of employee networks that support individuals and bring them together to highlight opportunities and a sense of community across a range of diverse groups including LGBT+, gender, ethnicity, mental wellness, disability, sustainability and working parents.
These networks have the additional benefit of elevating a collective employee voice and are a source of expertise which the company can draw on to identify and remove barriers to greater D&I.
Chief executive officer, Chartered Insurance Institute
The Chartered Insurance Institute, which Sian Fisher leads, has continued to push the envelope with its D&I efforts, introducing a refreshed and more ambitious D&I strategy for its own staff, committing fully to a culture of ‘anytime anywhere’ working to enhance flexibility for employees, and continuing to promote the Insuring Women’s Futures programme, which the institute established.
With Fisher at the helm, the insurance industry’s professional body has ensured that D&I remains an important and visible topic in the re/insurance industry with its events, networking opportunities and code of ethics.
Aaida Abu Jaber
Global head of marketing and PR, IGI
Aaida Abu Jaber single-handedly created a D&I programme at IGI in 2018 and has been banging the D&I drum ever since. She focuses on gender equality—she is based in Amman, Jordan, where there is still a lot to do on progressing the role of women, particularly around supporting female empowerment and gender equality in the workplace.
Chief talent and diversity officer, Palomar
Michelle Johnson provides oversight and guidance to the company’s D&I initiatives, which are in turn championed by the firm’s team members. Diverse representation is key for Johnson and she says that equally important are actions and behaviours that support inclusion.
She says that D&I is central for Palomar and the structure and culture the business is building rather than being a tick-box exercise, so it can serve the communities it provides policies to as well as the company’s team members and shareholders.
Global head talent & inclusion, Swiss Re
Christine Jordi’s personal credo is that diversity is important, but you need inclusiveness to make it work. She says that to be diverse and make it work, any initiatives need to be business-led and cannot simply be delegated to HR. However, she recognises HR has a crucial role in enabling and supporting the business leaders in finding a common language.
One of the first D&I initiatives Jordi started was a research project with a Swiss university to understand what kind of biases can limit leaders in being more inclusive and building a diverse organisation.
Chief culture and talent officer, Chubb
Described by her peers as an ‘agent of change’, Ivy Kusinga is known for her support of female leadership. She has ensured Chubb has retained a strategic and sustained focus on D&I and says it is integral to the company’s culture because Chubb recognises the value of diverse talent and how it can make the insurer competitive and more innovative in the future.
Chief executive officer, Hiscox London Market
As the senior D&I sponsor at the insurer, Kate Markham supports ‘solid framework’ policies that guide inclusive behaviour at all levels of the business. As part of the firm’s ‘connected community’ philosophy, Hiscox has employee network chapters—including LGBT+, Pan-African and mental health-focused WeMind—across the group designed to raise the bar on inclusivity. These networks have continued to meet virtually during the pandemic.
As part of the firm’s ‘nurture talent’ pledge, Hiscox has embedded D&I in its recruitment, training and development processes.
Head of culture, Lloyd’s of London
Pauline Miller has helped give a voice to her black and minority ethnic peers within the Lloyd’s Market, which has not traditionally been known for its inclusive culture. As part of efforts to change this, Miller has championed initiatives that focus on actions—by individuals, leaders and organisations—to make the Lloyd’s Market the most inclusive place possible.
She has led a team of talent development and D&I professionals to create and implement talent, learning and development programmes to enable employees at all levels to develop and perform to their maximum potential. She is also a leader for Inclusion@Lloyd’s, the committee for D&I that supports Lloyd’s and the Lloyd’s Market.
CEO Asia-Pacific and member of the Executive Committee, Zurich
During her career, Tulsi Naidu has made improving D&I at Zurich a priority. She says improvements in this area are critical to the insurer’s business performance as it means the firm can attract and retain the best talent, reduce risk, improve decision-making and deliver more innovative solutions for its customers.
In her previous post as Zurich’s UK CEO until December 31, 2020, she supported job vacancies being made available as part-time or job shares, while the employer’s FlexWork scheme enables employees to work where, when and how they choose.
The company has gender-balanced long and short lists for recruitment and uses diverse hiring panels.
Business manager, specialty, UK & Lloyd’s, AXA XL
In June 2020, Vanisha Patel and three colleagues launched RISE—a business resource group run by colleagues which aims to promote and increase opportunities for black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues at AXA XL.
A key goal for RISE is to make AXA XL the most admired and attractive company for people from an ethnic minority background by implementing a market-leading and integrated approach to D&I at every level of the organisation.
As a co-founder of the CII Insuring Women’s Futures initiative, to raise awareness of the role insurers have in improving financial outcomes for women, and a trustee of the London-based Centre for Ageing Better, Jane Portas is a clear advocate of promoting D&I programmes in the insurance sector.
She is also a champion of closing the pension gender pay gap, an issue that has begun to gain greater attention in recent years.
Insurance regulatory, risk and restructuring manager, PwC
Maurice Rose is the chair of Link, the LGBT Insurance Network. Formed in 2012, Link now has more than 1,300 members and has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The organisation supports cross-market diversity initiatives and engages with the re/insurance industry hosting senior executive dinners, regular meetings, and other events to assist companies on their journey to making insurance a more attractive sector for all talent.
Link has helped establish several new LGBT employee resource groups in the insurance sector.
Founder, ISC Group
Barbara Schönhofer has been at the forefront of D&I in the insurance sector for more than a decade, and founded the Insurance Supper Club, now ISC Group, in 2008. She was also instrumental in founding The Women in Insurance Network (TWIN) and Independent Women in Insurance (iWIN) for the Worshipful Company of Insurers.
Following this, she launched Half The Sky (HTS) Stargate to support the faster advancement of aspiring female leaders and is a founder member of Insuring Women’s Futures launched by the Chartered Insurance Institute.
Elisha St Hilaire
Project manager, retirement & investment practice, Aon Solutions UK
Elisha St Hilaire is the co-chair of Aon’s Multicultural Network and the event lead for the Insurance Cultural Awareness Network. She is an advocate of asking tougher questions about D&I to get to the root of the problem, rather than avoiding uncomfortable conversations. She encourages people to become ‘race confident’ and to educate themselves to understand what the challenges are even though they might not be able to walk in that person’s shoes.
For St Hilaire, D&I is about looking at yourself, your organisation and the culture that exists so that the organisation can move forward and work towards an equitable outcome for all.
Head of Argo Insurance Bermuda, Argo Group
William Wharton has highlighted the issue of the career barriers for young black men looking to join the re/insurance industry. He said the requirement of “completely unnecessary” qualifications or experience for entry level positions blocks them from entering insurance roles and reveals significant unconscious bias in many hiring policies.
Such policies set the bar unnecessarily high for potential candidates in requiring qualifications and experience that young black men are less likely to have.
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