The new president for Crawford & Company in the UK and Ireland, Lisa Bartlett (pictured), may have never consciously chosen to pursue an occupation in insurance but she was not long in the industry before she realised that it is a sector which rewards hard work and study with a great career. Throughout her own career to date, Bartlett has worked across the sector in a variety of roles, including as a broker and a carrier before moving into the claims sector, and this experience has given her a rounded perspective of the industry as a whole.
Being appointed to the role of president has, without a doubt, been the proudest moment of her career to date, Bartlett said, and she is embracing the opportunity to put the responsibilities of this role into action alongside the team at Crawford, with whom she has been extremely impressed since her arrival.
“My number one [responsibility] is to drive the people agenda,” she said. “We’re in a people business and it’s our people who will make the biggest difference. So, I want to make sure that I make Crawford a great place to work, and part of that is listening to what our clients are telling us.”
The industry is changing, she said, so it is more important than ever to make sure that both clients and employees are being listened to. While her responsibilities also lie within the P&L aspect of the business, Bartlett said, she believes that if the people and the clients are taken care of, then the numbers will take care of themselves.
“Without a healthy culture, I don’t think you will ever achieve long term success,” she said. “If you don’t have a healthy culture, then you’re not valuing the people. And if you don’t value the people, then I think any result you achieve will be short term at best.”
You don’t need to look further than the headlines to see that the insurance sector is playing catchup when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Bartlett said, and she believes that the predominance of gender diversity in burgeoning discussions in this area is inherently limited. If the industry just tries to tackle gender on its own then it’s not tackling the broader diversity problems in the sector, she said, or the resulting talent shortages in the industry.
“It’s my view that diversity is much broader,” she said. “It’s about diversity of background, diversity of thought, diversity of perspective. And I think there’s real strength in bringing those differences together because that’s how you challenge what you’re doing already. That, for me, is what diversity is all about.”
When outlining what she considers the key challenges facing the claims sector, Bartlett highlighted the skills shortage within insurance and stated that, across the board, the insurance industry is struggling to find ways to deal with this.
“For me that [challenge is] about attracting new skills and new talent, but also making sure that we put enough focus on the development of our people and make sure that we keep our people,” she said. “Because of this skills shortage, there’s a thirst for innovation, and diversity is probably the best enabler we’ve got to cope with those challenges.”
Looking at diversity within the insurance sector, Bartlett stated that the reason why insurance lingers behind the curve is likely due to a prolonged acceptance that the industry simply is the way it is. What’s changing, she said, is that the skills that are now being recruited for are notably different to those that were being sought 10 or 20 years ago.
“There’s much more availability of different roles, and I don’t think we always do a great job of advertising that the skills we’re looking for are changing,” she said. “I also think our thinking needs to modernise… to take a more flexible, more mature approach to yield different results.”
When it comes to retaining a great team, Bartlett said, she keeps in mind that people don’t leave a company, they leave a manager. It is essential for a business leader to feel connected to their people, she said, and to make sure that employees feel heard and valued. For Bartlett this means living out the founding principles which are at the core of Crawford’s operations – honesty and integrity, that hard work pays, and that knowledge and creativity is power.
In an effort to encapsulate these values and to promote the value of teamwork within the business, Bartlett will be undertaking a sponsored walk on June 26 which will involve her and over 50 volunteers, both Crawford colleagues and clients, in taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks. At a distance of 24 miles, this bold venture is being done in aid of Insurance United Against Dementia and Bartlett stated it is a great opportunity for the company to give something back as well as being a great team-building exercise.
“I think how we all engage and relate to each other at work makes the difference,” she said. “We spend a lot of time at work and we should work hard, but we should also have a lot of fun along the way.”