Leaders in the insurance industry know all too well that, in the next decade and a half, more than 400,000 insurance executives are set to retire. But if new generations of insurance professionals have not been prepared to take their place, the industry will face a leadership and workforce crisis that it has never confronted before.
So now is the time to attract new generations of promising candidates, drawn from a diverse employment pool. Insurance, like every industry, must embrace societal changes and an ongoing shift in demographics: the population will, in the next decade or so, become more multicultural. We need to be prepared for this change by incorporating early career candidates who reflect the larger society.
No industry -- no business -- can survive without people. At QBE, we know that our relationships with our people, the people who partner with us, and the people we serve as customers, constitute the “greenhouse” in which our business has grown in the past, and will continue to flourish in the future.
We see the need for QBE’s leaders and executives -- and those who staff every area of our business -- to reflect the diversity that exists among our partners and customers, and within the larger world. Understanding and rapport are more easily advanced when diversity is the cultural norm. Today we are seeing that the business case for diversity -- from the root level to every customer and community touch-point -- is more important than ever.
Leaders and employees with varied talents, life experiences, and points of view make any company more well-rounded, more resilient in the face of marketplace ups and downs, and better positioned to deal with the increased pace and the inevitability of change. At the same time, a multicultural workforce increases the diversity of thought that drives innovation, while contributing to greater employee engagement. When diversity exists at all levels, creative solutions are more likely to be found, leading to optimal organizational and financial performance.
Furthermore, a diverse workforce enhances every corporate entity’s public perception – its promotable brand. A brand portraying inclusiveness and diversity is critical to success in the twenty-first century.
For each of these reasons, we are committed to creating an ever-broadening and strong culture of inclusion.
One of the specific ways we have pursued inclusiveness at QBE has been through QBE WIN (Women’s Initiative Network, WIN@QBE). This network supports the professional development of our employees through enriching programs with internal and external speakers, and the opportunity to network with colleagues for career growth.
Our WIN network builds upon our existing foundation of equality -- which we’ve long used as a business tool to attract top talent. We also view inclusion as a way to enhance employee engagement overall, while increasing our retention rate, and driving real business results.
Here are just a handful of ways we are engaged in attracting a diverse new generation of leaders and employees:
· Diversity & Inclusion: Our workforce diversity is an organizational strength which allows us to draw upon a wide variety of perspectives, capabilities, and insights, so we can develop innovative solutions that benefit our customers. Working with such diversity partners as Catalyst, Diversity Inc., and others, we offer resources and networking opportunities for our employees that enable them to both celebrate and make the most of their unique backgrounds and perspectives. Our goal is to continue to foster a fair and inclusive workplace environment that attracts and retains a broad spectrum of industry talent. We believe in the “talent flywheel,” or the fact that capable, gifted people are the true drivers of progress and profitability. So we seek people with a passion for what they do, along with well-honed specialty expertise in their particular areas.
· Employee Affinity Groups: To provide a platform for employees of diverse backgrounds and interests to collaborate across their areas of expertise, we have developed several affinity groups (or Business Resource Groups – also known as BRGs).
· Recruitment, Talent Development, & Training: We offer opportunities for people at all stages of their work lives to enhance and build their careers -- whether they are embarking upon a first job, or seeking a career change -- we offer a wide range of positions for those who want to contribute in a positive way. We make it easy for our employees to succeed, given our culture of regular, improvement-inducing feedback and the availability of such tools and resources as our Leadership Academy, Learn@QBE, which offers a broad curriculum for all employees’ professional development and growth.
· Work-Life Integration & Job Flexibility: Our work-life integration strategy is designed to help QBE employees reach their full potential and thrive professionally as well as personally. The voices and perspectives of our employees, captured through our annual Employee Engagement Survey, has helped QBE implement a variety of flexible working arrangements, globally, to improve employee productivity, accountability, and engagement.
· Corporate Community & Social Responsibility: Focusing on our responsibility to the community -- to enhance the lives of those living in the vicinity of our office locations -- is an initiative well-integrated with our diversity strategy, in that both seek to improve the workplace as well as the surrounding community. As a result, we have launched many region-specific company volunteer efforts involving community outreach initiatives. One way that we have expressed our commitment to women and to ensuring equality and a more diverse workforce, is through the QBE NA Foundation’s support of the Dress for Success Summit, a three-day leadership program that empowers women to achieve independence by providing career development tools.
There are many good reasons why QBE has long embraced cultural diversity and inclusion, but the business case for both is clear: when a diverse group of people occupies positions of power to make substantive decisions, the company benefits in innumerable ways.
Diverse leadership alters not only the public perception of our company, but makes it more likely that we’ll hear innovative ideas for improvement, and our employees will be able to communicate effectively with diverse partners and customers.
QBE is excited to embrace all that the twenty-first century has to offer, including the demand for diversity and inclusion.
By Leigh Oates
Chief Actuary, QBE North America