London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and moves are afoot to make sure the city’s famed insurance and reinsurance industry is truly representative of this mixture of cultures. Historically, the London Market has not been known for its diversity, especially at the upper echelons of the industry. But people in the industry are making headway in changing that. Ajay Mistry, of iCAN, the insurance cultural awareness network, along with his co-founder, DWF insurance lawyer Kishan Mangat, say they want “to promote multicultural inclusion and progression” as well as “engage with allies and celebrate the benefits of inclusion and diversity (D&I) in the insurance sector”. Mistry, who is a broker in his day job – formerly at Aviva and Aon – and now at Brokerbility, believes this is way the way forward. iCAN, he tells Reactions, was established two years ago on the back of changes like the founding of the Dive In Festival. Mistry noticed that even the diversity network meetings he attended in the London Market on other causes like LGBT+ and women’s networking groups were still overwhelmingly white, and might not be as welcoming to those of a BAME background as they could have been. They now have a membership of 600 or so insurance professionals, run four events a year, and have the backing of Inga Beale and other senior figures in the industry. Year one was about making noise, notes Mistry, year two is about getting recognised. Insurance’s plans Insurance is a global industry and no shortage of people from various backgrounds walk through the doors of companies every day, but there are many things the market can be doing to attract, retain, and grow BAME talent in a better way. “We’re so far behind and everyone knows that,” says Mistry. He believes that progress has been made with the Dive In Festival and networking groups, like his, that are popping up but they need to get the people on top to see the benefit of diversity too. “We’ve got to let things play out,” he adds, “There’s got to be more focus to get the man on the street to understand.” This means Mistry, and others who work in the diversity and inclusion realm, know there is a problem with preaching to the converted and know they have to fix it. They have just not quite hit on how to do so yet. There is also the worry, he adds, that it is not always the best thing for people’s careers to be seen as a diversity champion which is why he urges people to use facts, not emotion to create change - and the facts are on diversity’s side. A 2015 report from consultant McKinsey showed that companies do better if they are more ethnically diverse. “The analysis found a statistically significant relationship between a more diverse leadership team and better financial performance,” said the report. “Companies in the top quartile of racial/ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median.” Finding out why companies are losing staff must be a new emphasis, he says, but they are not focusing on it, instead writing it off as “not the right fit”. He cites the gender pay gap as a path for breaking this attitude, and adds that this would also highlight the extra pay disparity of BAME women’s pay versus that of white women, and provide much-needed data to back up claims. “People have known women weren’t paid enough, and yet look how long it took to the gender pay gap legislation pushed,” he says. One of the ways in which insurance could increase numbers of BAME staff is to focus not just on apprenticeships for younger people, says Mistry, but also on making sure experienced staff stay. He also highlights the same theme many others in... CLICK HEADLINE TO READ MORE!