Diversity: LGBT is more than just a four letter word

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It’s no secret that insurance has something of a reputation problem and is seen as old fashioned and very male dominated. This may not be the worst thing in the world, but it does mean that insurance can struggle to attract young people into the industry, and especially a more diverse and inclusive workforce, when compared with other industries that have better PR. This is a problem for two reasons: 1) PwC research from 2015 shows that 86% of female and 74% of male millennials consider employers’ policies on diversity, equality and inclusion when deciding which company to work for; and 2) the industry is now losing more people than it’s gaining as the baby boomer generation begins to retire. Simply put, insurance must reach out to better access more diverse groups of people if it hopes to have any sort of innovative workforce in the future. One group who know about how to attract this new talent and change the industry’s reputation is Link – the LGBT+ insurance network. Link's mission is to create and maintain workplaces that attract and retain the best LGBT+ talent to the insurance industry. Its co-chairs spoke to Reactions on what insurance needs to do better in order to kick the stereotypes and attract the brightest new graduates into the industry. Link co-chair Theresa Farrenson, of Aon, sees it as a holistic problem and that getting younger people involved in insurance and changing the narrative around the industry means a slew of new initiatives must be taken up. “We simply need to get better at PR,” she says. “We’ve got people viewing insurance as working in call centres, or small scale things like the insurance on their mobile phones. This is the view for everyone, not just the LGBT+ community. We need to find a way to show a bit of glamour in the industry. “Instead of the old images, we need to connect and show how interesting this career is. You get to work on fascinating things; rebuild cities and countries after natural disasters and wars, insure the Olympics and World Cups. We just aren’t getting this message out there.” Fellow co-chair Steven Copsey of Jelf agrees: “I think the industry is doing a lot to try and change this idea of male and old fashioned. With initiatives like the Dive In Festival, groups like Link, iCAN (Insurance Cultural Awareness Network), NGIN (Next Generation Insurance Network), and a number of women’s network groups, the industry is able to share best practice and support organisations with their internal network groups. This helps to educate those who still aren’t aware of all of the benefits that inclusive culture can bring to an organisation.” What to do? The industry is trying to attract young people to join it as the older generations retire, but not enough is being done to capture them. Farrenson believes more market research and early intervention could help this. With market research, the industry would get a better understanding of why insurance is not appealing. Schools could also provide more risk management courses to expose students to insurance, although as Farrenson says with a sigh there has only been limited success from such moves so far. “It’s not a quick fix,” Farrenson says, “And not just an LGBT+ thing – but people are interested so let’s feed off this.” One way in which Farrenson and her peers see insurance going wrong is from the pool it looks to attract new talent; are they going to all the universities and training facilities or just the most prestigious? New initiatives like blind CVs and unconscious bias training also need to become more widespread. “Basically, let’s shout about ourselves, and the issues around diversity,” says Farrenson. “We need to enable graduates to see themselves in our industry. It all comes down to our... CLICK HEADLINE TO READ MORE

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