While the insurance industry has made some big strides in recent years, there remains some “unsavoury” aspects to working in the City environment, Dame Inga Beale said as industry CEOs came together to sign an inclusivity pledge.
“The culture is changing here in the City, and changing in insurance around the world. But there are still some unsavoury aspects of City work,” the Lloyds CEO said yesterday, highlighting the President’s Club dinner – a men-only fundraising event in which it was revealed that female hostesses were sexually harassed and objectified – as an example.
The CEO said that while she doesn’t personally witness “inappropriate behaviour” among colleagues, she does hear reports from others that it continues to occur.
Beale, who will step down from her role at Lloyd’s next year, helped lead a new industry pledge that has been signed by 50 firms. Spearheaded by Lloyd’s and Zurich, the Inclusive Behaviours Pledge is designed to change behaviours within the industry and create a more inclusive work environment across the sector.
The pledge addresses all forms of potential discrimination in the workplace, including age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnerships, pregnancy/maternity, family and caring responsibilities, race, religion/belief, gender and sexual orientation. It sets out a clear framework of desired behaviours for leaders and their employees in the workplace, as well as in their interactions with suppliers and customers.
Tulsi Naidu, CEO of Zurich UK, said that while, in her experience, the insurance industry has been a great place to work, “we do still see instances of poor behaviour which undermine the whole and that’s why we think this pan-industry initiative is so important.”
“We believe the Inclusive Behaviours Pledge will send a clear signal that the leadership of our industry is committed to working together to drive out inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour,” Naidu continued. “We want our current and future employees to be confident in the insurance industry and see it as a sector that is inclusive and welcoming to all.”
Alongside founding pledge signatories Lloyd’s and Zurich, firms that have signed up so far include RSA, AXA, Willis Towers Watson and Marsh. Trade bodies The British Insurance Brokers Association, the Association of British Insurers, the Lloyd’s Market Association, and the London & International Insurance Brokers’ Association have also signed up.
The pledge contains a series of CEO-level commitments, with an obligation for them to have clear policies and procedures in place for reporting any inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour in the workplace. It commits CEOs to taking action within their own organisations if their employees are not treated with dignity at work, with serious repercussions for the perpetrators of any behaviour which falls short of the desired behaviours.
“What this pledge is about is making sure that where we have small pockets of behaviour, where we have experiences that still continue to exist within each of our firms, that those experiences do not define our industry. That we are seen as a consistently fantastic place to work,” Naidu said.
A dedicated website, inclusiveinsurancepledge.co.uk, has also been launched, where organisations can read about the pledge and sign up online. The website provides signatories with an ‘Inclusive Behaviours’ toolkit, designed to help firms embed and enforce the pledge across their organisations.