Diversity and inclusion (D&I) – at its rawest, most hardnosed business case – is about getting the best people in the team, regardless of prejudice, to create the best results.
This is why Reactions is publishing this forum of women leadership, asking what the industry is doing wrong, what it’s doing right, and how it can do better. It consists of the thoughts and views of senior and ascendant women leaders in the industry, sharing their own perspectives and personal experiences about D&I, and how the industry needs to change to help more women succeed.
No obstacles of tradition or culture can trump that business rationale. Yet the industry still falls far short of this aim, even at the most basic barrier of gender equality. Too few women are making it to the higher rungs of leadership. While D&I is a much broader issue, this basic failure still drags on performance.
Reactions is pleased to note that gender equality and D&I issues are increasingly at the forefront of industry thought. Reactions human capital events in New York and London will continue to champion this theme. We also commend events such as the London market’s recent Dive in Festival, which has already committed to a repeat in 2016, championed by Inga Beale, the first ever female Lloyd’s CEO in the market’s three centuries of history.
Whether the companies in today’s global market will be around even three decades from now is a question of recruiting the best possible teams. Recruiting tomorrow’s industry leaders needs to start now. The challenge is increasing: because of staff demographics and a mounting recruitment crisis; and because the sources of the business and the risks are evolving.
The Post War Baby Boom generation is now retiring. Most teams in the market – whether in New York, Bermuda, Zurich or London – are still led by a narrow cadre of middle-aged, middle-class white men drawn from this generation, soon be concluding their working lives and drawing pensions.
The industry is becoming more truly international than ever before. Underinsured emerging markets represent the biggest growth regions for the industry, and represent an increasing share of global underwriting as each year passes. A broader talent pool is going to be necessary to maximise opportunities and unlock much of that potential.
Then there are the changing risks. To properly broker or write emerging intangible risks – like cyber-attack, reputational damage, or supply chain and contingent business interruption – recruiting the right teams comprised of the best talent is going to be increasingly vital to success.
It is within that context that the historical view of D&I as an optional extra to be left to HR teams on the periphery of corporate strategy is not sustainable. If companies and leaders want to succeed in this marketplace, they need to be doing the right things now.
Read the full report in the December/January issue of Reactions, or online here.