Brian Kirwan, CEO of Allianz chaired this debate hosted by QBE, stressing for the audience that the teams weren’t necessarily representing their own views in arguing for and against inclusion.
Maxine Goddard from Zurich partnered Jason Groves from Marsh in arguing for diversity with Lloyd’s’ Leon Walker and Chubb’s Cristina Galindo offering up opposing views.
Does insurance have a moral obligation to be more inclusive? This was the first question put to the teams. Jason and Maxine, for the motion, cited the gender pay gap and representation of women in the industry as one stark reason why this subject has to be taken seriously. Leon countered by asking the room to raise hands to show who saw the Marvel Film, Black Panther? His point was that following the runaway commercial success of the film, the fashion media chose to feature only black models for a while, clearly responding to what it perceived were market preferences. He played devil’s advocate by challenging the room to consider whether diversity really does help generate profits in the way the classic business case argument suggests?
The next question asked the teams to put their views on whether the insurance industry is doing everything possible to promote inclusion? Jason Groves cited the new research from Dive In festival attendees, describing the stats as ‘extraordinary progress by any measure’ as 93% of respondents said that their managers were now taking action on inclusion. Another way to get everyone to participate is to encourage allies to support groups such as LGBT and women’s networks. ‘Talk about it, bring it up at work, it might be uncomfortable but it makes a difference.’ He advised. Cristina spoke about her experience working in different countries and how from her perspective, the UK is diverse but not necessarily inclusive.
The final question prompted discussion around the gene pool and the DNA that gets replicated when managers and recruiters are complicit in filling vacancies quickly with the most obvious candidates. An ICAN committee member pointed out that as much as the insurance industry thinks it is being inclusive by bringing in children from inner city schools to experience the workplace, promoting insurance careers to more diverse talent pools, the reality of many BAME families is that insurance doesn’t resonate for the older generation either as a profession. In his summary, Brian brought the argument into sharp focus by reminding the audience that looking backwards to the way things have been in the past is pointless as the speed of change of technology is going to dictate the future and the talent required far more than the current status quo.