How much has insurance industry culture really changed?

How much has insurance industry culture really changed? | Insurance Business

How much has insurance industry culture really changed?

Insurance has had to work hard to foster a culture of inclusivity, and although it has made some good strides over the last few years, the general consensus is that it still has a long way to go.

Early in their careers, Delta Insurance claims manager Petra Lucioli and managing director Ian Pollard both spent time working in London before returning to New Zealand, and they say that the industry when they started was a very different place to the industry of today. Nonetheless, the problems that existed then are still being fought with, with some crucial changes only being made within the past few years.

“The culture within the sector has certainly evolved,” Lucioli told Insurance Business.

“At one stage when I was working in London, my colleague was a woman who had been the first woman to ever work in Lloyd’s. Lloyd’s was men-only until 1972, which is when the Equal Employment Opportunity Act came in, and so it was forced to open its doors to women.”

“This colleague of mine was the first to walk through those doors on the January  01, 1973, and they didn’t even have any women’s toilets!” Lucioli said. “So to that extent, you can definitely see the difference.”

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As part of its modernisation, Lloyd’s of London recently started barring those under the influence of alcohol or drugs from entering the building, and, in April, it enforced a new code of conduct for its workers following widespread sexual harassment claims. Two years prior, it had forbidden its staff from drinking between the working hours of 9am and 5pm, something Lucioli says had very much fuelled the culture it is now trying to fight.

“I hadn’t worked in London for a long time, but even there we know that the culture has shifted,” Lucioli said. “Banning drinking at lunchtime for example – most industries would see that as a given! But it took a very long time for that to happen, and that was certainly a big cultural element of the ‘boys club’ and that sort of shift is definitely having an impact.”

Managing Director Ian Pollard says that the idea of diversity has taken some time to catch up within the industry, but that it is slowly becoming more natural to everyone in the sector.

“When I started my career in London in the 90s, I was fairly ‘exotic’ being Northern English – never mind being female, or of a different ethnicity,” Pollard said. “I think insurance has come a long way from that, but there is a lot more work to be done.”

“I’ve personally had two female bosses throughout my career, and they remain very good mentors to me to this day,” he continued. “Those women were a big part of my career journey in moving to an insurance company, and then moving to Hong Kong and to New York. Having female leaders, mentors and heroes is something I’ve grown up with in my insurance career, and that kind of change is growing more visible.”

“Ultimately, having female role models like that is very important,” Lucioli concluded.

“I had some amazing ones myself – one was the senior partner of the firm, and had been the first female lawyer in the town that I was working in. That’s important because without that, you don’t necessarily see that the opportunities are there.”