Reflecting on events of the past few months -- from the natural catastrophes that have impacted Asia, the Caribbean and parts of the US, to the conclusion of the Dive In festival -- has reminded me of the social role that the insurance sector plays.
Watching the full impact that storms Harvey, Irma and Maria had on communities was heartbreaking. Lives thrown into chaos. Businesses that need to start all over again. Communities that now face the daunting task of rebuilding.
And it is at this point where insurance plays an essential role, providing the practical assistance to help those communities get back on their feet and begin the road to recovery and some sort of normality.
It is easy to take for granted that when the worst happens the coverage we provide comes to the fore. But when it does, our ability to respond quickly, practically and empathetically is critical in supporting the people who are having to piece their lives back together.
The sector has always responded when challenged. As leaders, we must ensure that we are maintaining our reputation for acting quickly, for it can be a reputation quickly lost if we do not do the best that we can by people who are dependent on us.
In such uncertain times, we help provide certainty. Whether it's by paying claims quickly or providing sound financial advice.
VIVE LA DIFFERENCE
Another area that was front and centre of my thoughts was the Dive In festival in September -- a celebration of diversity, inclusion and difference. Now in its third year, it has grown into a truly international event, involving all types of insurance firms, addressing some of the real challenges we face in achieving a truly diverse and inclusive profession. The CII hosted several events, including in Hong Kong and India.
I joined one event at the CII in London, where students came and heard CII members talk of their own experiences and why a career in insurance can be so rewarding. Let's hope some of them get the bug and join us.
Across the globe, there were many fascinating speakers from inside and outside insurance giving their perspective on what we all need to do to ensure we have inclusive workplaces. They highlighted how it feels when nothing is done, as well as the progress that is being made.
As the festival has grown in size and influence, inevitably, so too have the issues it explores. I found it fascinating that a survey of nearly 3,000 insurance professionals across global markets had different challenges that they wanted their firms to address, from mental health and LGBT issues to multigenerational and multicultural issues.
On the one hand, I am pleased people are challenging their leadership teams on a wider scope of issues. It would suggest that awareness of what diversity and inclusion means is growing and we must encourage this. But of course, it presents us with a real challenge.
We need to address these concerns with actions that can make a practical difference. I think it is unarguable that we are making progress in this regard, but we can never presume the job is done. We must use events like Dive In to ask ourselves if we are doing everything we can to ensure people can be themselves at work and feel that their office is a welcoming environment.
What is clear is that to attract new talent to our profession and to retain that talent, we need to take action. You can be part of that action -- get involved with your local institute, each of which now has its own diversity officer, get involved on social media, and discover more about apprenticeships through www.cii.co.uk/apprenticeships
These are reminders of the role that insurance can play -- in societies or in the office -- and the far-reaching consequences of both.
Dame Inga Beale ACII, President, CII