Ethnic minorities have to deal with “higher levels of acculturation” in the workplace

The insurance industry has long had an issue with retaining black and ethnic minority staff and this is ”down to culture”.

This was the message of Junior Garba, one of the co-founders of the African Caribbean Insurance Network (ACIN) during a webinar on 10 July.

This is also something that the Insurance Cultural Awareness Network (iCAN) also alluded to recently.

Garba and Godwin Sosi, the other co-founder of ACIN have spoken to many graduates that have joined the industry.

“We know that after a short period of time, they are thinking about leaving because they do not feel that the environment is accepting or welcoming to people with their cultural differences,” Garba said. 

It coincides with ACIN publishing a research paper ‘Six Steps to Racial Inclusivity: Recommendations for the London Insurance Market’.


Garba continued: “This is what we call acculturation issues – adapting into a different environment or integrating oneself into the prevailing culture of a particular environment. In our industry that seems to be white, male and middle class – what we can say is that corporate culture in the [insurance industry] is more synonymous with white, male, middle class culture than it is with people with ethnic minority backgrounds.

“People with ethnic minority backgrounds have to deal with higher levels of acculturation than their white counterparts.”

Sosi added: “Five days a week, 9-5 is a long time to be in the office and if you have to put a costume on and be someone you are not, it is going to hard to maintain that persona.”

ACIN is working hard with sponsors to create a sense of belonging.

Retention problems

Sosi stressed the importance for staff to be themselves at work. Like Garba, he said: “When I first came into the industry, there were certain things that I didn’t do, I didn’t play golf or tennis, I didn’t ski, I didn’t really drink beer but as a result of being in the industry and wanting to do well, there are certain traits [and activities] you have to pick up. It’s almost [like] if you don’t do that your career within the industry is short lived.”

The ACIN has been working hard to promote cultural inclusion.

He continued: “We can bring all the talent into the industry but if there isn’t a culture and a sense of belonging once they [black and ethnic minority candidates] they get in, it’s only a matter of time before they get up and leave.”

To do this Sosi said firms should aim to create a culture where race is recognised but irrelevant, where concepts like BAME are left behind and distinguish between ethnic groups and the challenges that they face.

He recommended that ethnicity be established as independent streams within diversity and inclusion.

The report cited a comment from Inyang Udosen, ACIN member and technical manager at Miller Insurance. 

It said: “Ethnic minority employees are bottling-up race-related issues and grievances which they do not feel comfortable discussing with line managers or HR departments, potentially creating a mental health time-bomb. The London market needs to create an outlet for people with these concerns, who feel unsupported by the existing processes and protocols.”

Read more…Black Lives Matter protests reawaken insurance industry under representation BAME debate 

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