Leaders on why "the insurance industry has to represent its communities"

It's going to take a generation to create real change, says CEO

Leaders on why "the insurance industry has to represent its communities"

Insurance News

By Mia Wallace

In a recent feature with Insurance Business, UK CEO of the re/insurance broking giant BMS Ian Gormley shared his thoughts on the progress being made by diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I) initiatives across the insurance market.

“I recognise we have a long way to go and that work on DE&I may never be done,” he said, “but we are seeing real progress through proactive sponsorship from our leadership team, dedicating resources and budget and empowering and encouraging all colleagues to play their part.”

Expanding on this subject in a recent interview with IB TV, Tom Downey, CEO of Pen Underwriting joined Donna Scully, director and owner of Carpenters Group, to discuss how the industry has addressed its issues with diversity. Regrettably, not enough inroads have yet been made, according to Downey, and although the sector is changing, more does need to be done.

“I was very lucky in my career,” he said. “I come from Northern Ireland. In 1989, I arrived [in insurance] and somebody trusted me. I have a different accent and that was genuinely tough back in those days, having an accent like this. So, I know what it feels like to sometimes be different, I understand that. I think the insurance industry has to represent its communities and we don’t, today, represent our communities.”

It’s going to take a generation to build out real change, Downey said, but he is confident that with the right levels of focus and with the right commitment from leaders, it can be achieved. Pen is actively bringing in more people from its communities, offering new routes to people attracted to insurance and financial services.

“That’s how we make it happen,” he said. “That’s how we make a great business and bring in real talent. Because I have no doubt there’s real talent being lost to other industries, that could be brilliant for the UK insurance industry and make the UK an even better place to be.”

For Scully, the fact that insurance remains a male-dominated industry points to the fact that there’s still more work to be done. There has been some good work done, she said, and there have been improvements made, but the dialogue needs to open further and conversations around DE&I need to continue to evolve.

“There’s a lot of great men who want to work with us, and don’t see it as an issue,” she said. “But I think there’s still a lot of work to be done, and we’ve got to keep going at it.”

What are your thoughts on DE&I progress? Please feel free to share your comments below.

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