’We’re looking at diversity and inclusion holistically across our geographies,’ says head of culture

Situated within the heart of London’s financial district stands a building that Marvel fans may recognise from its cameo in a Guardians of the Galaxy film, but for those in the UK insurance industry, Lloyd’s of London serves as the exchange for the worldwide insurance market.

Mark Lomas, Lloyd’s of London’s head of culture, is at the forefront for diversity and inclusion (D&I) for the market. Drawing from a symphony of “hard lessons” from his musical past and fuelled by a deep-seated commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusion, he aims to effect change not only within Lloyd’s but also across the broader insurance sector.

Lomas first crossed paths with Lloyd’s in 2015 through consultancy work, where he reviewed the market’s recruitment practices, before taking on the role of head of culture in 2022.

Nonetheless, Lomas’ entry into the insurance sector will resonate with most, as he stumbled into the industry. He reveals that his transition from a musical career to the insurance sector was influenced by the challenging nature of pursuing music in the UK.

Originally from Bermuda, he pursued his music education in both the United Kingdom and the United States, with studies at the world famous Juilliard School in New York.

However, he encountered difficulties in establishing a network in the UK, which led to frustration and eventually a “flight home” to Bermuda.

This experience highlighted the importance of networking, as he noticed that his “value and perception” differed between the UK and the US.

“That’s what got me interested in diversity and inclusion,” says Lomas.

Prior to Lloyd’s, Lomas became involved with a disability charity and was unexpectedly placed on a diversity committee, despite having “little knowledge” of its purpose.

During a committee discussion, he caught the attention of the chief executive officer, who appreciated his candid and “direct” approach, setting Lomas on a career path focused on diversity and inclusion frameworks and practices for businesses.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Lomas says that he is always “looking for and loving a challenge” – with Lloyd’s long history and its desire to modernise on diversity and inclusion a great opportunity.

Lomas says that he picked up on Lloyd’s and the London market’s “will to improve and modernise”, adding “I see my role as helping upskill the market and the corporation to be able to achieve [its] ambitions”.

Lloyd’s history

Lomas admits that “every organisation [and] every sector will have its challenges” – with Lloyd’s being “no different”.

He notes that 2019 was a “pivotal moment” as the world witnessed seismic changes around the issue 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.

As a result, and in the wake of reports of sexual harassment in the market, Lloyd’s announced the results of its culture survey in September 2019, which revealed that 500 people in the market had witnessed sexual harassment.

The culture survey was just one component of a broader initiative aimed at addressing inappropriate behaviour over the long term. This initiative is an extension of the five-point action plan established in March 2019, which includes the implementation of a bullying and harassment support line, the application of sanctions, conducting culture surveys, reviewing policies and providing training.

Lloyd’s surveyed 6,003 participants in the insurance market across all levels between May and June in 2019, of whom 35% were women.

Meanwhile, a year later, Ethnic Diversity in the Workplace report, which used data and personal stories from more than 900 employees, found that nearly three-quarters (71%) of black respondents believed they had experienced barriers to recruitment – this was twice as high as the figure for their white counterparts.

Moreover, 70% of black respondents believed they had experienced barriers with regards to promotions, whereas only 45% of white respondents thought they had hit barriers in terms of achieving promotions.

Under half (41%) of black and minority ethnic groups said they believed their visible diversity worked against them in the workplace.

The future

Looking ahead, Lomas notes that recent years encouraged Lloyd’s to start “thinking about how you embed culture and diversity and its market oversight regulatory practices”.

As a result, Lomas says that Lloyd’s committed to a “one in three” hiring ambition, meaning one of three hires across the market should come from ethnic minority backgrounds.

It also set out an additional ambition to aim for gender parity by 2030, the same standard it expects of the wider market, according to Lloyd’s website. 

“You could say that [these] pivotal moments have helped Lloyd’s respond and crystallise their action,” says Lomas.

“We can commend Lloyd’s for being very deliberate in its approach to developing diversity and inclusion practices.

“The new culture strategy, which I put into place when I started, moves us to a position where we are not just adding one and one, but we’re looking at diversity and inclusion holistically across our geographies [while] also keeping absolute focus on those targets and commitments,” explains Lomas.

Last year, the market reported that engagement with both the market, policies and practices (MP&P) return and the culture survey improved.

Participation in the culture survey increased by 54% to over 9,500 people responding, representing 35% of the people working in the market.

18 firms achieved the 35% women in leadership target and 63% of firms increased the representation of women in leadership last year.

Meanwhile, ethnic diversity in the market increased to 9% of the total and 11 firms have achieved the one in three ethnic minority hiring ambition, with baseline data showing 15% of new hires having an ethnic minority background.

Lomas says: “We can see from the [culture survey] and policies and practices return, that there is increasing diversity in the Lloyds market and we are modernising.

“It’s not lip service – we are putting in place, [the innovations that] are helping [Lloyd’s] and the market to modernise.”