Romaney O’Malley discusses the major benefits diversity can bring and why it should be viewed as a productivity issue
The benefits of diversity in the insurance industry goes well beyond gender parity.
This is according to Romaney O’Malley, AIG’s head of UK regions, who has at the forefront of pushing through the insurer’s diversity scheme ‘BeingYou@AIG’.
Zurich and Lloyd’s last week launched an inclusivity pledge, signed by 50 firms across the industry addressing all forms of potential discrimination in the workplace.
And O’Malley says it is important the diversity issue extends beyond just gender.
She said: “I get asked a lot about the women diversity angle, but I think we are now a bit further along in our diversity journey now and what you realise once you start thinking about the gender piece is that it’s not just about gender.
“It’s about people being able to be themselves at work, whether you’re from a different ethnic background, you have a different sexuality, whether you’re from a group that has a history of mental health challenges – you can take your pick.”
But O’Malley says the conversation has to move on from targeting inclusivity within particular groups to encouraging a working environment where all people feel comfortable to be themselves.
She says a more general view of diversity will bring with it further benefits.
She said: “When you get different views you’re going to get better solutions. That’s all true and I am a buyer of that business case.
“But one of the things that doesn’t get talked about enough, which I’m really passionate about, is that if you’re working in an environment where you haven’t been able to be yourself you actually spend a lot of energy filtering what you’re saying.
“You are trying to show up in a certain way that might not be natural or comfortable for you, and all of that takes up an enormous amount of energy, so you end up wasting energy on trying to make sure you are appearing, speaking or turning up in a certain way.”
O’Malley says it is more applicable to talk about diversity as a productivity issue.
“If you’ve got people who turn up to work completely comfortable to be themselves and just focussed on what they really need to get done that’s an incredibly productive workforce.
“That’s what I want from my team. It’s a more open, innovative and energetic environment and more stimulating.”
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