Rebecca Aston and Hayley Brown examine initiatives run recently by two CII Chartered firms, intended to improve equality, diversity and inclusion
Previously, The Journal reported results of the recent survey of CII Chartered firms, undertaken to examine the impact of the 2019 requirement that all Chartered firms have an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policy in place. The survey looked to identify areas where the CII can support the Chartered community in driving forward initiatives intended to improve diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace and the wider insurance and personal finance professions.
We recognise that Chartered firms all have different priorities when it comes to EDI and that firms may be at different stages on their journeys to promote EDI internally and externally.
To help firms meet the challenges identified by the survey, the CII pledges to continue to share support, guidance and examples of best practice. In this article, therefore, we are delighted to feature initiatives taken recently by two CII Chartered firms, intended to improve EDI in the workplace and the profession.
Lark Group held Chartered status from 2015 and, following the merger with Aston Scott Group in July 2018, the company became Aston Lark, remaining Chartered to this day. Aston Lark participated in this year’s #10000BlackInterns programme, which seeks to provide paid work experience to black students and recent graduates across a wide range of sectors each year, providing critical training and development opportunities. The aim is for 10,000 internships to be provided in five years.
Aston Lark HR director Inta Nalivaiko said: “We are so delighted to support this programme to help provide opportunities for the black talent that has been historically underrepresented in our sector.
At Aston Lark we want to ensure that we continue being a progressive, innovative broker and employer. For that to be a reality, a rich and diverse perspective is an absolute must.”
Participation in initiatives such as these is an opportunity to proactively attract talent from a diverse pool of underrepresented groups and create a more diverse and accepting workplace environment. Respondents to the
CII Chartered EDI survey identified that programmes designed to attract diverse talent have led to positive outcomes such as – perhaps predictably – having a more representative workforce and a more representative senior leadership team, but also some more unexpected outcomes such as leading to an improvement in creativity and innovation, as well as helping leaders to identify biases and blindspots.
Alan Boswell Group
Acknowledging they are at the start of their EDI journey, this year Norwich-based Chartered insurance broker (since 2013) Alan Boswell Group ran awareness webinars in conjunction with the CII for its employees.
The sessions covered the economic and moral arguments for having a diverse and inclusive workplace, which supports the firm’s refreshed policy wording, which states: “Alan Boswell Group is committed to embedding an inclusive, collaborative culture among colleagues to encourage a diverse representation within firms’ governance structure. We want to live and breathe D&I, creating an inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued, respected and able to contribute to the success of business.”
We recognise that Chartered firms all have different priorities when it comes to EDI, and that firms may be at different stages on their journeys to promote EDI internally and externally
Employees were provided with links to CII online resources to find out more in the first instance, such as the inclusive language guide, inclusive recruitment guide and talented generations guide.
Providing training that goes beyond compliance was another example of initiatives highlighted by respondents to the CII Chartered EDI survey. In addition to the predictable outcome of heightened awareness and understanding of EDI, firms also noted that training that focuses beyond compliance – including the economic and moral arguments – led to improvements in creativity and innovation and an increase in employee engagement levels.
Resources to tap into
The examples of initiatives undertaken by both these firms highlight the range of opportunities available to firms to promote EDI. From partnering with external campaigns and organisations, to seeking support from the CII in designing bespoke and appropriate training, there are so many resources that firms can tap into to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace and profession. There are a number of reasons why this is important, as highlighted by statistics shared as part of the 2021 Dive In Festival:
- Insurance is 93% white – seven percentage points more than the UK population.
- Some 71% of black respondents believe they have experienced barriers to recruitment. This is twice as many as their white counterparts.
- There are only 17 female CEOs across all 350 FTSE companies.
- Only five ethnic minority directors occupy a CEO position in the FTSE 100, all of whom are men.
- Disabled people have an employment rate that is 28.8 percentage points lower than that of people who are not disabled.
- Almost a third of non-binary people (31%) and one in five trans people (18%) don’t feel able to wear work attire representing their gender expression.
- Black and minority ethnic respondents are twice as likely to feel undervalued at work than their white counterparts.
However, as revealed by the CII Chartered EDI survey, initiatives designed to improve EDI also lead to associated outcomes that are beneficial to all who work for a firm – such as an increase in employee engagement, more creativity and innovation, while helping leaders identify biases and blindspots.
The initiatives undertaken by Aston Lark and Alan Boswell Group are great examples of ways firms can take steps to improve EDI – and we thank them for sharing their experience with the CII. If your Chartered firm would like to share examples of initiatives you have taken to improve EDI, please do get in touch.
Rebecca Aston is professional standards manager and Hayley Brown is corporate development manager of the CII