‘There are many different ways to look at accessibility and as an industry we’ve made some strides but need to continue improving’, says spokesperson

Ajay Mistry, cofounder and cochair, Insurance Cultural Awareness Network (Ican)

Ajay Mistry - Gambit Partners founder

Ajay Mistry 

In today’s rapidly evolving professional landscape, we at Ican know that fostering inclusivity and diversity within industries is imperative.

For many firms and insurers, this means prioritising the accessibility of events for younger professionals, especially Gen Z – those aged 25 and under in the workforce. Bridging the generation gap and facilitating the participation of budding talents can lead to fresh perspectives, innovation and a robust future for the industry.

To achieve improved outreach, firms and insurers can employ targeted marketing strategies tailored to younger audiences. We have found that utilising social media platforms, podcasts and interactive webinars can effectively engage this demographic.

We also believe that providing clear and concise event information, coupled with relatable content, can ignite interest and encourage attendance.

Offering discounted or flexible ticket options, along with virtual participation choices, can also cater to the preferences and constraints of younger staff – but this needs to be made clear to more experienced staff, as they will often be the key to opening the doors for younger generations.

Encouraging younger professionals to attend events involves cultivating an atmosphere of inclusivity and professional growth. Mentorship programmes, where experienced individuals guide novices, can alleviate the intimidation factor. Creating dedicated networking spaces within events where attendees can freely exchange ideas further nurtures relationships and learning opportunities.

From an insurance perspective, networking plays a pivotal role for those Gen Z individuals embarking on their careers and this an area we look forward to addressing more at Ican with the work that we do to help this.

Yvonne Braun, director of policy, long-term savings, health and protection, ABI 

Insurance is a vital element of day to day life, but to thrive as an industry we need the enhanced creativity, customer orientation and employee satisfaction that comes from embracing diversity.

Yvonne Braun_ABI

Yvonne Braun 

We know that the financial services sector continues to be dominated by people from middle class backgrounds. To better reflect the society we serve, we need to ensure the windows to the industry – our events – are accessible and welcoming to all.

First and foremost, who’s on the panel? If people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds can’t see themselves or their views reflected in the conversation, why would they want to join?

We need to open speaking opportunities to people from all levels, not just those in senior positions – who are more likely to be from middle class backgrounds.

Creating an environment where people feel respected and empowered to share a diverse range of views supports inclusion and should lead to more insightful and dynamic debates.

Don’t forget the power of promotion. Move beyond the echo chambers of e-newsletters and social media and consider the variety of channels that are relevant to your event. Look to different charities, civil society groups and the media to reach a wider audience and get them excited about what our industry has to offer.

And finally, be transparent. Make sure all information about your event is clear and easily accessible, especially on pricing.

Offering concessionary rates for anyone who can’t get funding from their employer can help remove financial barriers. Our sector has a great social purpose – protecting people financially should the worst happen.

Our events, just like our industry, should attract and welcome people from all walks of life.

Johnny Timpson, co-founder, Group for Autism, Insurance, Investment and Neurodiversity (Gain)

Johnny Timspon, co-founder of GAIN

Johnny Timpson 

It’s essential and importantly an Equality Act requirement that our insurance industry networking events – online or in person – are accessible.

Let’s additionally strive to ensure that they are inclusive by design. So, be prepared to meet a wide variety of individual adjustment needs and where possible, invite delegates to share their access requirements in advance to aid the removal of obstacles that might make it difficult for everyone to fully participate.

For basic adjustments, ensure entrances, toilets, seating and parking are all accessible.

Plan regular breaks and clearly label foods with any allergens they might contain. Ask presenters to use large text and colours that contrast on the visual components of their presentation so that they can be read easily – this also applies to handouts.

Presenters, furthermore, should always use a microphone when they’re speaking and have their presentation uncaptioned – this greatly assists those with hearing loss or who are neurodivergent, particularly if there is background noise in the venue.

There are also neuroinclusion adjustments that benefit all. These include improving psychological safety by sharing information well in advance – such as detailed schedules, maps and dress codes. Provide all delegates with name badges that include their role and firm and warn participants of loud noises, bright and or strobing lights, as well as high traffic areas or crowds.

Godwin Sosi and Junior Garba, co-founders, African-Caribbean Insurance Network (ACIN)

By attending careers fairs at universities and hosting insight days in the City of London, the ACIN has found that it has given our candidates the opportunity to step into our world and network with people who look just like them and were once in their shoes.

Godwin Sosi and Junior Garba, ACIN

Left to right: Godwin Sosi and Junior Garba 

These are candidates who were not aware of the industry prior. Attraction, however, isn’t enough and we recognise that once candidates have been attracted into the industry, we need to do our best to also retain and develop them as well – this is why the ACIN community is imperative for the London market.

The community allows people to find a representation of themselves through our frequent events and our networking events have turned the workplace isolation that our members often felt on its head.

The ACIN is here to help the insurance sector build the workforce of the future by creating access for insurance companies to recruit from diverse pools of talent and, to date, we have hired over 150 candidates into the insurance industry through our recruitment arm.

Mike Thomas, director of distribution for digital and mid-market, Allianz

There are many different ways to look at accessibility and as an industry we’ve made some strides, but need to continue improving.

Mike Thomas Allianz hub

Mike Thomas 

Location and cost are a factor, as are whether events have considered things like disabled access or British Sign Language (BSL) signers. Then, of course, there’s the question of inclusivity and diversity – who’s invited to speak and why and who’s on the guest list and why.

But networking events don’t have to be formal and groups such as Ican do a fantastic job making their events friendly and welcoming.

If you’re new to the industry or in a junior role events can be quite daunting, so tone also plays a part in accessibility.

We’ve looked at our own events to make sure we have a spread of approaches – there’s a stereotype of insurers and brokers going to the pub together and whilst that has a place, we’re actually using our Olympics sponsorship to feed into our events as part of our global #MoveNow campaign.

Allianz launched its MoveNow program in June 2022 with the aim of supporting and strenghtening young people by facilitating access and offering opportunities for them to become and stay active.

We’ve also organised joint charity events and joint volunteering days with brokers which get people mixing in fun and different ways. Ultimately, accessibility should be front of mind in all of what we do, as partners, leaders and employers.