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Insurance industry organizations need to further develop their diversity and inclusion strategies to meet the goal of gender equality, a panel of CEOs said.
While many companies have introduced D&I programs and achieved greater diversity among their staff, established company cultures still make it difficult for women to advance to senior management positions, they said.
They were speaking during a panel at the Business Insurance Women to Watch Awards and Leadership Conference EMEA in London on Friday.
Many leaders in the insurance industry and entrants into the sector recognize the need for change, but established patterns of career success need to be changed to establish gender equality, said Julie Page, CEO of Aon UK Ltd. in London.
“Most of the leaders in our industry are trying to make a difference, but the real need is to get to the managers on the first and second tier up and stop the behaviors that reinforce the norms in the industry,” she said.
Programs to improve diversity make little impact on an organization if they are not promoted and embraced by managers, Ms. Page said.
“If your strategy is one of D&I, but the culture in the firm and the practices in the firm don’t support it, then it will very quickly fall away into the background,” Ms. Page said.
Diversity and inclusion training is a good first step for a company seeking to improve the diversity of its workforces, but to make significant progress companies need to inject accountability and goals into the process, said Anthony Baldwin, CEO AIG Europe Ltd.
“We continue to support training but also say ‘By the way, this is a business imperative” and every strategy has goals,” he said.
Companies that ignore any sector of their employee population, are likely to see negative consequences, said David North, president and CEO of Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., who moderated the panel.
“If you exclude them, intentionally or otherwise, from the population set of assets you bring to bear, you are giving a competitive advantage to an organization that chooses not to,” he said.
The insurance brokerage sector is dependent on human capital rather than financial capital, said Nicolas Aubert, head of Great Britain for Willis Towers Watson PLC. “People are an asset for you and you work with them and collaborate with them and ask them to do things … do you want to realize only part of your assets or do want to collaborate with and work with all your assets?”
To ensure that the Business Insurance Diversity & Inclusion Institute effectively assists the commercial insurance industry in adapting to the demographic diversity of its customer base, it welcomes eight corporate risk managers to its Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board.