The massed ranks of the great unwashed took to the streets on Monday for a feast of anti-capitalist protest. For Hors d'oeuvres, they sang. Instead of soup they beat drums, their main course appeared to be graffiti, then, for afters, they had a little riot. And, no doubt, it was all washed down with some sweet-tasting self-righteousness.
But it would be all too easy to dismiss the protests as irrelevant. Sure, the actual protagonists may have numbered a few thousand, but some of the issues they champion find favour with a wider audience – an audience that will become discerning when it buys insurance.
There is a growing unease at what is perceived as the corporate greed of many multinational companies and, particularly, the lack of environmental and social concerns they display.
About as far away from the rioters as you can imagine, stands the Chartered Insurance Institute. This is not a group of dreadlocked, grime-ridden protesters. Their suits are decidedly pinstriped and there is not a dog on string in sight. And yet, The CII too is concerned about the lack of social awareness by insurers.
The Government has a major policy objective of tackling social exclusion – it is run from the Cabinet Office with Mo Mowlem in overall charge of the initiatives in each government department. For the Treasury, this means tackling financial exclusion.
At a recent conference run by the New Policy Institute, which included the likes of Treasury minister Melanie Johnson as speakers, insurance was noticeable by its absence.
The world of banking was there in force by contrast, but apart from the CII only one insurer, Zurich, turned up. It is time the industry took these issues more seriously.