The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has published an ambitious new DEI Blueprint, setting out a multi-year strategy and work plan to improve diversity, equity and inclusion across the insurance and long-term savings industry.
Launched at the ABI’s DEI Summit and created in collaboration with industry leaders, the Blueprint takes a holistic approach to DEI. It sets out priority areas for the ABI to lead, good practices for the industry, and opportunities for collaboration with experts.
It looks at each stage of the employment journey: from using inclusive recruitment practices to attract the best talent from all backgrounds to helping employees grow and progress their careers in the sector and advancing their understanding of what works to drive improvement.
The sector has made progress, but it has not been consistent. While the proportion of board members that are women increased from 29% to 32% last year, the overall proportion of employees from ethnic minority backgrounds across the industry fell from 10% to 9%, largely due to decreases at entry level.
The Blueprint’s first goal is focused on recruitment practices. It aims to encourage people from all backgrounds, experiences and seniority into the sector and to break down any barriers. With a greater focus on socio-economic status, the Blueprint seeks to make opportunities for apprentices and school leavers attractive and inclusive, drive up the take-up of initiatives to support underrepresented groups into the industry, and show that insurance and long-term savings offer a wide range of attractive career opportunities for many different skill sets.
Once in the industry, the Blueprint sets out key opportunities and mechanisms that can help create environments that retain, embed and expand a diverse workforce of talented people. From structured secondments and mid-career apprenticeships to offering further support for significant life events, such as fertility treatment, bereavement, miscarriage and menopause. The Blueprint acknowledges the importance of creating a culture that supports employees at every stage in their careers so that they can reach their full potential.
Evidence is crucial to identify gaps or barriers for protected groups and target efforts to tackle them. At present, data collection across the industry is piecemeal. In particular, 29% of companies participating in the ABI’s data collection are capturing some form of data on social mobility, but a further 20% plan to.
The DEI Blueprint aims to build a consistent set of metrics to support members in gathering the necessary diversity, equity and inclusion information, including social mobility, and includes an ABI commitment to developing guidance to help employees feel more comfortable sharing their data. It also encourages a culture of transparency so that the evidence can be used to advance understanding and measure progress.
Hannah Gurga, ABI Director General, said: “At a time when society is entering the most challenging circumstances in a decade, the need for a diverse range of experiences and perspectives has never been greater. I’m proud that our industry is setting the path for change with this ambitious Blueprint. This isn’t just about changing the way the industry looks and feels, it’s about creating a more effective industry that represents the people we serve.
“Whether it’s financial resilience or climate change, our sector has always aspired to be at the forefront of efforts to address societal challenges. So we must also play a leading role in creating diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces. With initiatives such as the #MakingFlexibleWork campaign and signing up for Business in the Community’s Race at Work charter, we’ve made a start. But there is much more to do.”
The theme of collaboration runs throughout the Blueprint. By publishing it in full, the ABI hopes to work with leaders and DEI experts inside and outside the industry to help reach its ambition of being the most diverse, equitable and inclusive sector of the UK economy.
Tracy Garrad, AXA Health CEO, Executive Sponsor for Diversity & Inclusion AXA UK&I and Chair, ABI Board Sub Group on DEI, said: “Giving people from all backgrounds an opportunity to progress successfully in their roles is something that is hugely important to AXA and a core business value.
“In the current climate, it is vital to ensure that the entire insurance and long-term savings sector is adapting to offer our workforce rewarding careers. The Blueprint is a great step towards making this happen and will help create more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces for the future.”