Equity’s programmes have ”helped connect new joiners, develop and advance experienced hires and expand the reach of insurance into new areas,” says Lloyd’s chair
Over the past years the world has witnessed seismic changes around the question of inclusion with the emergence of the MeToo movement, the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Consequently, individuals and industries across the globe have examined their attitudes and policies towards inclusion for underrepresented groups.
This introspection has led to significant shifts in both the London market and the broader insurance sector, with major moves now underway to pursue more representative workforces.
These developments were highlighted by Joe Hurd, nominated member of the Lloyd’s Council, during his opening speech at the launch of Equity City, which took place at Lloyd’s earlier this week (5 September 2023).
In his remarks, Hurd made reference to the late American president John F. Kennedy, who often interpreted the Chinese character for “crisis” as symbolising “two halves representing both danger and opportunity”.
He added: “Whether that’s true or not, I think it’s true for inclusion, where these external events have served to put inclusion squarely in the spotlight.”
Consequently, Hurd emphasised that the insurance industry was currently experiencing a “pivotal moment”.
Speaking at an event held at Lloyd’s to celebrate the African-Caribbean Insurance Network’s (ACIN) relaunch as Equity, Hurd explained that more than 20% of Greater London’s population comprised ethnic minorities, including Afro-Caribbean, South Asian and other people.
As Equity, the organisation’s new remit will focus on wider diversity ambitions under the continued leadership of cofounders Junior Garba and Godwin Sosi.
The ACIN was founded in 2018 by the two Lloyd’s underwriters and was inspired by their experiences working as minority professionals. Over the last five years, the recruitment agency has worked with leading industry firms to place over 100 diverse hires into the insurance sector.
Under its expanded remit, Equity will now broaden its focus from the black community to include other underrepresented communities – and from the insurance industry to the wider financial services sector.
Commenting on the potential of greater inclusion to benefit business, Hurd suggested that it would be “unwise for any chief executive” to disregard such a substantial potential for growth.
However, Hurd added that this potential for growth was being passed over by the industry because it failed to harness an underserved pool of talent and neglected to establish avenues for underrepresented minorities to excel in the insurance industry.
Statistics from the London Matters 2017 report, for example, raised concerns about the lack of diversity in the insurance market and urged that this matter should be prioritised.
In addition, data from the Insurance Census for 2017 indicated that only 10% of employees in the sector were from black, asian, or minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. In 2019, these data showed that this proportion had decreased to just 7%.
Meanwhile, the ABI’s Talent and Diversity research, published in 2021, highlighted that only 2% of insurance executives were from minority ethnic backgrounds, despite 10 percent of new industry entrants comprising this same group.
Research undertaken in 2020 and published by NEDonBoard identified similar findings.
As a result of data showing that various minorities were underrepresented in the insurance industry, there have been attempts to improve ethnic diversity within the industry.
Peter Blanc, head of mergers and acquisitions at Howden but formerly chief executive of Aston Lark, estimated that 6% of his staff were from a BAME background when asked in 2020.
Also in 2020, Aon Reinsurance Solutions’ global chairman, Dominic Christian, said that at least 40 percent of candidates that had recently joined the firm had done so as a result of the diversity programmes he rolled out.
Despite work towards this goal, “the work of the Afro-Caribbean Insurance Network (ACIN) in building a more diverse industry and sector could not be more important”, said Hurd.
When Equity, then known as the ACIN, cofounder Garba had the initial idea for his network, alongside fellow cofounder Sosi, insurance professionals fed back that launching the initiative would be “corporate suicide” because bringing attention to race in this way was broadly viewed as being detrimental for the pair’s careers.
However, Garba felt that “it’s no secret – the industry lacks adequate levels of representation at all levels.”
He also said that he believes policies seeking to encourage ethnic diversity need “more effective monitoring”.
This included Lloyd’s of London’s June 2020 pledge “that one in three of all new hires should come from ethnic minority backgrounds and [that] 35% of senior leader hires need to be female”.
During the launch event for Equity, Bruce Carnegie-Brown, Lloyd’s chair, noted that the ”ACIN’s work lies right at the heart of our market. They connect the people to the programmes, so the vision Lloyd’s has outlined for years into the future actually leads to change on the ground.”
He added that Equity’s programmes had ”helped connect new joiners, develop and advance experienced hires and expand the reach of insurance into new areas.”
Its ”programmes have helped integrate new recruits, develop and advance experienced hires and expand the reach of insurance into new areas and opportunities we might not have explored otherwise”, said Carnegie-Brown.
He added that the event marked “another chapter of growth” to be celebrated.
Cofounders Garba and Sosi expressed their excitement at the rebranding and encouraged everyone in the industry to “watch this space”.
Beyond the world of insurance, I've ventured into creative pursuits that promote inclusivity and representation.
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