Ahead of this month’s Dive In festival, Emmanuel Fabin, insurance manager at TSB bank, says “despite moving away from its traditional, stuffy persona, in reality insurance is still not reflecting the diversity of our society”
When I explain to family and friends, even strangers, that I work in insurance, often the first response focuses on complaints about no claims bonuses/discounts or what exactly an underwriter is. The visibility and awareness of insurance in comparison with other financial services is negligible. This has led to careers in insurance not being as understood or desired by the average person as they could be.
I started my career by ‘falling’ into insurance in 2003 and even now, 15 years on, there is still a significant gap between perception and reality.
This lack of awareness continues, going by my experience when mentoring students. This unfamiliarity is one of the core reasons, I believe, we have an insurance industry that is less than diverse.
Yes, insurance is traditional, but despite moving away from its traditional, stuffy persona, in reality insurance is still not reflecting the diversity of our society.
The benefits of more diversity in insurance are clear. In a global, dynamic, service-led industry, our strength lies in being able to provide solutions to a wide range of customers’ needs and philosophies. To do that well, the industry must hold a wide range of world views, cultural backgrounds and ideas.
The risk and insurance industry is all about innovation and solutions. The push for diversity should be aligned to these characteristics. If we want dynamic, forward-thinking youth from diverse backgrounds, we need to utilise our tools of innovation and change.
ENGAGE ON THEIR PLATFORMS
Beyond milk rounds at red brick universities, we need to incorporate an intentional push to a broader audience using online platforms to find users from diverse backgrounds.
Once we can engage with future risk and insurance managers on a platform they are familiar with, we can display the diverse opportunities within the industry.
To understand how the industry must intentionally engage more with potential risk and insurance managers, consider the number of views of the top three insurance career-related YouTube videos in the last 12 months – it sits at around 27,000. This is less than a third of the views of one video concerning a medical assistant career, posted in the last six months.
In the 2016 Airmic members survey, 4% or less of those surveyed were younger than 30 and 74% were 40 and older. There is a real risk of a lost generation of insurance and risk professional leaders in the future.
The 2018 survey results are due later this year and there isn’t any indication so far that there has been a significant demographic shift.
So how should the industry approach the need for change? We need a three-pronged approach when engaging potential recruits:
- Awareness – What role does the risk and insurance sector play in today’s world?
- Attraction – What diverse opportunities are there and what long-term career paths?
- Action – What is the first step on the career ladder?
FEMALE LEADERS WANTED
As part of this diversity push, the promotion of female leadership is a positive and needed action. I have benefited tremendously from the guidance of female leaders in my career and the recent focus on bringing through strong leaders is invaluable.
The current impetus for diversity is centred on women in top insurance management positions and the greater presence of support groups such as the Women’s Insurance Networking Group. However, this on its own will not secure the level of diversity we must demand. The drive for diverse leadership cannot be sustainable without a ‘grass roots’ focus on bringing a young, culturally varied workforce into the industry.