Our role in leading positive change
As people engagement director, Tali Shlomo is responsible for people; diversity and inclusion; internal and external engagement; learning and development; and talent programmes. She has been with the CII for 17 years and oversaw an overhaul of its people strategy last year. Commenting on the progress made in promoting diversity and inclusion internally during the past 12 months, Tali said: “We have been working on improving diversity and inclusion in the CII for 10 years, with some success. What has driven our progress in the last couple of years is a more organised and structured approach, driven by our responsibility to set the standards for our profession.
“The transformation programme looked at values and behaviours and specifically at developing a high-performing and purposeful culture that is modern, relevant and diverse. One of these values was that our community should be an open one, where we engage and communicate clearly and effectively; where we encourage and support individual opinion and dialogue; and where we champion inclusion, respect and trust. This approach then fed into our overall diversity and inclusion strategy. “It was therefore a highlight for me when an internal focus group on corporate culture examined which words summed up the CII and ‘diverse’ emerged as one of the top answers, along with ‘evolving’, ‘ambitious’ and ‘flexible’.”
The CII’s diversity and inclusion strategy is focused on “providing leadership and setting standards for a diverse and inclusive profession”. It has three distinct but related arenas to achieve this – internally; within the regional distribution network; and within the profession. In this section, we aim to highlight some of the progress made against this strategy in the last year.
Internally, we have engaged in a plethora of activities including:
- The embedding of inclusive processes for recruitment with no positive discrimination, but recruitment on merit with an aspirational target for gender balance;
- Our annual inclusive leadership session;
- Awareness and inspirational event internally for our colleagues and externally for our members on LGBT+ and mental health and age diversity;
- Becoming a signatory of the ‘Time to Change’ pledge to end mental health stigma;
- Ensuring that we mitigate unconscious bias in rewards, recognition and appraisal, through different moderations;
- Enabling four women to be externally mentored for nine months as part of our commitment to the 30% Club, as well as introducing an internal mentoring programme;
- Online learning about unconscious bias, the equality act and emotional intelligence;
- The initiation of regular monthly and annual engagement surveys for employees to check what progress is being made;
- Becoming one of the first organisations to disclose our gender pay gap data despite the fact this was not required of us because of our size.
Utilising the network
Within our regional distribution network, we have set and communicated our suggested best practice diversity and inclusion guiding principles, template policy and practices, through various publications on inclusive recruitment, the gender pay gap, and running an inclusive organisation. We have also organised various thought leadership sessions for the local institutes, in Glasgow, Birmingham, and Manchester, as well as supporting Insurance United Against Dementia by helping to raise awareness and encouraging fundraising. The current project on a mental health guide in collaboration with Mind will be the next policy guidance, due out soon.
Externally – the profession
In the wider context of the profession as a whole, we were instrumental in leading the debate on the gender pay gap, through preparing a policy paper that summarised the reality and made some meaningful recommendations; proactively engaging with the trade press on the issue; and hosting an industry HR director’s breakfast on the subject. The focus now is on designing an action plan to help the industry close the gap.
We have also made good progress on our first major insightful leadership initiative – Insuring Futures, which was set up in recognition of the number of disengaged, financially-excluded members of society whose needs the industry was failing to address appropriately.
We focused initially on women, with three workstreams: getting more women into the insurance profession; gaining insight into women’s risks; and finding risk solutions for women. This year we followed up our initial research with a further, more in-depth, report that shows that women today are living longer, have better education and more career opportunities, but they are likely to be worse off than their male partners, mothers and grandmothers. So, while modern society affords women greater freedoms, their economic progress and financial resilience has not kept pace and they are profoundly more exposed to financial difficulty.
On the back of this work, we hosted the IWF Live 2018 event, which brought together the insurance and personal finance professions, policymakers and the third sector, to discuss the unique risks women are exposed to throughout life and how the insurance and personal finance professions can collaborate with wider societal groups to address them.
We also established a market taskforce of 15 highly influential senior people from across the sector and gained their commitment to an action plan. This group has agreed the priorities that have come out of the research, with five key areas of focus and eight workstreams. Its initial focus will be addressing the pension deficit, with women having smaller pensions than men, especially if they are divorced or separated. Once it has made discernible progress on the pension deficit, it will move on to addressing the other key areas of focus.