We all know it, even if the rest of the world might not understand: the commercial insurance industry is a great place to work. Our tasks are diverse, our people are vibrant, and once someone has landed a job in London’s insurance district they generally spend their career here. Yet the message doesn’t seem to have made it that far as we do not attract a sufficiently diverse workforce.
Why should we care? The talent shortage is one good reason. If women generally don’t like the idea of a career in the London market, we shrink our recruitment potential by 50% instantly. Plus, diversity in the workplace is repeatedly proven to deliver significant business benefits. Bottom line increases. As a market, London is thinking about it more these days but we have a long way to go.
We need to be an attractive market to work in and that means having an appealing culture. Demand for highly trained individuals is high both at the apprentice/graduate end and those further on in their career. We need to ensure that our workplaces are irresistibly appealing, our employees can develop a fulfilling work/life balance, and we offer exciting and broad training and development opportunities. We must value our team members and let them know it. We need to create supportive environments where people are empowered and challenged. That keeps them engaged and motivated.
For many companies and roles, flexible working is mutually beneficial and it is becoming increasingly popular. It is the only way that I, as a working mother, am able to do my job. Plenty of studies show that increased flexibility leads to improved employee performance. However, flexibility must be for everyone. When implemented unevenly (just for parents, for example), it can be negative for those excluded and challenge the balance between their professional and personal lives.
Good and regular training are vital in delivering this culture. People have a desire to learn, to develop new skills and gain knowledge that will support them in their role, whether its guidance on managing a team, or a course developing a particular technical aspect of their role. We’ve also found that lunch & learn sessions make the workplace more attractive. The group shares their knowledge with colleagues, or garners valuable insights from others within an unstructured environment involving everyone from graduates to managers. Similarly, incentives to complete training in individuals’ chosen areas should be available to personnel at all levels.
Money matters, of course. The ‘package’ is typically of utmost importance. It’s the main reason we all get out of bed in the morning. We work hard to create fair and exciting packages for all our team members. ‘Fair’ goes back to the diversity point: we will become more attractive to potential newcomers to our sector when we have eliminated pay disparities.
Brokers, companies, and syndicates have made progress since the government first required that such figures be published but again, we have a way to go yet. Particularly as insurance was part of the worst-performing UK sector (financial services) for mean gender pay gap.
There is no perfect strategy that guarantees we will be attractive to everyone. When we recruit, we know that understanding what motivates people is vital. Creating a working environment which fuels their motivations, one where they can thrive, is critical; as is a competitive and equal remuneration package. Finally, fostering an inclusive culture that individuals naturally wish to embrace and advance pushes us towards new levels of desirability as a place to work. If we can ensure all of the London market truly looks like this, we will attract the next generation of leaders to assure our future.