Dame Inga Beale explains how inclusion holds the key to rebuilding faith in the insurance sector.
Beginning a new year gives us all a chance to reflect on the year that has been. As I look back on 2017, one of the things that really struck me was the level of public distrust of business, government and media. Around the world people have been rallying against the status quo -- challenging what is, and demanding change for a better future.
For the global insurance sector, we need to come to terms with what this means for us as a significant contributor to global prosperity, with enormous potential and power to change the lives of millions for the better. Of course, we do this everyday -- from paying claims for broken iPhones or lost luggage, providing advice to individuals around pensions, right through to supporting countries at times of national disaster.
When I stop and think about it, the enormous value of what we collectively do is really quite extraordinary. But we're not the ones that need convincing -- though we might need reminding from time to time!
In this world of distrust, how do we restore the trust of the millions of customers we serve?
When you boil it down, this is all about inclusion. Although this might seem like an all too simplistic synopsis of the complex challenges right around the world, this one word encapsulates society's plea to have a louder voice, to be thought about, and to be involved.
The CII has an important role to play when it comes to rebuilding public confidence and trust across our profession. And part of this involves transforming the image of our sector through the people that work in it. There is no question that increasing the diversity of our sector by cultivating inclusive environments will continue to remain a critical part of that journey in the years and decades ahead.
Of course, gender diversity is right up there when it comes to being more representative of, and trusted by, our customers -- half of which are women. This year in the UK we celebrate 100 years since the signing of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave women the right to vote. This milestone and the ongoing suffragette movement worked to achieve equal rights for men and women.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Although we have come a long way, there is still significant work to be done -- particularly when it comes to the number of women in senior positions. By 5 April this year, any UK organisation that has more than 250 employees must publish and report on its gender pay gap. Although the CII has a gap, I'm proud that it has taken a leading role in publishing its own data, together with calling on the insurance sector to do the same.
Which brings me on to new talent -- to help reinvent our image, we need to more meaningfully engage with new talent, the people who are the future of the insurance sector. We need to keep working hard on telling a better story about our profession and we need to better engage with young people at the critical stages of their early career planning.
That is why the CII's Discover Risk initiative, which continues to encourage young people in school and university to consider career options within the insurance sector, is so important. In 2017 there were more than 250 events across schools, colleges and universities, reaching in excess of 10,000 young people. The Discover membership now has more than 2,500 students and careers advisers in the scheme, receiving sector updates, case studies and jobs. That's a great result and one to build on during the next year.
Those efforts, alongside the collective efforts of insurance firms in the UK and our members are so important in capturing the hearts and minds of our
future talent -- the talent who are already living and breathing the technology that will drive our sector in the years ahead.
Dame Inga Beale ACII, President, CII