All firms in the UK insurance industry – from regional brokers to corporate giants – need to get behind a new inclusivity pledge in order to “move the needle,” says Zurich’s UK chief executive Tulsi Naidu.
Designed to stamp out unwanted behaviours within the industry and create a more inclusive work environment across the sector, Naidu told Insurance Business that a “pan-industry” effort is needed to create widespread change.
“This is about the reputation of the insurance industry as a place to work, and as a place that is truly leading in terms of the sorts of behaviours that we expect and we stand for, and the behaviours that we do not tolerate,” Naidu said in an interview.
While a number of national businesses have already signed the pledge alongside London Market firms, Naidu said she would like to see insurance businesses up and down the country sign too – regardless of their size or scale.
A dedicated website for the pledge offers a downloadable toolkit that provides advice on how companies can implement the initiative and its values in their own workplace.
“I don’t think size makes a difference in your attitude toward [this], and it shouldn’t,” the CEO said. “If you’re at the smaller end of the spectrum you’re likely to have less resources and less bandwidth to think about how you might deal with these issues, but what the toolkit is providing is support that can be taken off the shelf.”
While most of the signatories will have “robust processes” in place to encourage employees to report any incidences of discriminatory or unwanted behaviour, Naidu said that in order to create tangible change employees at every level must feel confident in doing so.
“I think we are still dealing with a degree of reticence and a lack of confidence among colleagues within businesses, even within very sophisticated businesses… It’s a personal choice and it’s all about confidence – do you feel able to report?
“What we’d like to do with this pledge is create the confidence in a widespread way, that means people are encouraged to report,” she explained.
Long-term, the aim for the pledge is to create an ongoing conversation that will lead to a cultural shift within the industry, and ultimately make it a more attractive place for the future generation of talent.
“In the first instance it’s about…making sure there’s a structured statement that drives out any vestige of poor behaviour in the industry, and in doing so, continuing on a journey that I think we absolutely are on to creating a more inclusive, diverse workforce,” Naidu said. “I think we are making strides in that direction.”