There is a rising recognition that neurodiverse staff can bring a different view and approach to the risks that the industry faces

This week saw broker Marsh McLennan become the first UK organisation to be granted the newly launched Autism Confidence status by charity Ambitious about Autism (AaA).

Jon Guy

Jon Guy 

The award is the result of three years’ work by Marsh to adopt and implement more inclusive practices in the areas of recruitment, HR policy, employee engagement and education – and also to improve the physical working environment for neurodiverse colleagues.

Neurodiversity refers to the idea that differences in neurological functioning – including conditions such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia, for example – are natural variations in brain development, rather than disorders or disabilities.

In 2021, the company made a formal commitment to hiring autistic talent and has since facilitated paid work experience placements for autistic young people across in the UK, with 50% becoming permanent hires. It has also put 238 members of its staff through specialist training to be able to support an autistic person within their team.

An advisory group of neurodivergent colleagues – the Lived Experience Advisory Group – has also been established to create further meaningful changes across the workforce, such as the creation of several bespoke resources for autistic colleagues and their families.

Marsh McLennan’s UK chief executive Chris Lay said: “As a result of our work with Ambitious about Autism, more and more neurodivergent individuals are bringing fresh perspectives and unique problem-solving capabilities to Marsh McLennan, enabling us to better serve clients and enrich our overall working environment.

”We look forward to furthering our efforts to remove all barriers to entry to the UK insurance industry and make Marsh McLennan a truly inclusive place to work for people across all differences and backgrounds.”

More work needed

Lay has a point. The insurance market’s annual Dive In Festival, which addresses a wide range of diversity and inclusion issues and is celebrated across the globe, put on nearly 140 events during a week-long event last year. 

Just two of these events examined how neurodivergent staff can bring a new dimension to businesses in all areas of the (re)insurance industry.

Neither of these neurodiversity-focused sessions were held in the UK, but there is a rising recognition that neurodiverse staff can bring a different view and approach to the risks that the industry faces.

In a world of more complex and interconnected risks, the ability to see new patterns and new solutions is becoming ever more important as underwriters and brokers look to meet the changing needs of clients.

It has long been recognised that the ability to think outside of the box is a huge advantage, so any effort to enhance such capabilities has to be welcomed.

The market is making huge strides on a broad range of issues around diversity and inclusion.

It may well be that because areas such as neurodiversity and social inclusion cannot be easily seen or identified, the efforts of brokers and underwriters in fostering inclusion in this arena are not fully recognised or acknowledged.

With that in mind, it is good to see that that neurodiversity is not only on the agenda – but publicly so.