Race equality week and the importance of mentoring

The industry continues to fall under scrutiny and has a long way to go

Race equality week and the importance of mentoring


By Kishan Mangat

Earlier this month, we celebrated Race Equality Week, an important annual movement in the UK which serves as a time to reflect on the barriers that still exist in achieving race equality in the workplace.

This year the theme of Race Equality Week was #ItsEveryonesBusiness, and at iCAN we wholeheartedly agree with this message.

While great strides have been made towards racial equality in many areas of society, there is still much work to be done to ensure that everyone, regardless of their racial background, has the opportunity to thrive.

The insurance industry is no exception to this reality. Despite being a key player in the global financial services sector, the industry continues to fall under scrutiny for its lack of diversity and representation, especially at the highest levels. In 2021, the ABI found that only 2% of insurance executives were from ethnic minority heritage, even though over 14% of the UK’s working age population is ethnically diverse, and this contrast is even starker when one considers that London - where much of our activity is based - has an ethnically diverse population of 40%. This is particularly concerning given the significant impact our industry has on economies around the world, and the communities we serve.

It is our collective responsibility as an industry to attract and recruit more diverse talent, and provide pathways for their progression within our sector. A financial services survey published in December 2022 found that 45% of ethnic minority employees believe their career progression is lower than white peers, and nearly 40% of ethnic minority employees were likely to search for a new role within six to 12 months.  There is simply no time to wait – action is needed now to prevent a brain drain of ethnically diverse talent.

The Big Promise

During Race Equality Week we heard the statistic that 75% of race network chairs said PR gesturing is meaningless if proper action is not taken, and so the Big Promise was created to ensure individuals and organisations could make a commitment to action and not just words.

iCAN’s Big Promise

iCAN promises to:

  • Mentor, reciprocal or reverse mentor our members
  • Help develop opportunities for our peers
  • Feed back our ideas and suggestions for improvement
  • Be brave and speak out when we encounter racism
  • Take up opportunities offered to us
  • Share our data (in employee surveys) to help improve representation

Nurturing diverse talent

There is much work still to do to provide equal opportunities for all races in our industry. As a network dedicated to advancing multicultural diversity and advancement, iCAN has seen the unique challenges that ethnic minorities often face in progressing their careers in insurance, such as a lack of connections, difficulties navigating the industry, and an absence of role models. Simply hiring diverse talent is not enough; it is important to provide guidance and support throughout their careers, and mentorship is a key component in that effort.

The importance of mentoring diverse talent

Mentoring is important for minorities in insurance for several reasons:

  • Overcoming barriers: Ethnic minority professionals often face unique barriers in the industry, such as lack of representation and unconscious biases. A mentor can provide support and guidance as mentees navigate these challenges and help them find solutions to overcome them.
  • Career development: Mentors can provide guidance and support as mentees develop their careers, helping them identify their strengths, set goals, and develop the skills they need to succeed. They can also provide feedback and advice on important decisions, such as choosing career paths or seeking promotions.
  • Networking opportunities: Mentors can provide mentees with valuable connections and networking opportunities that can help them advance in their careers. They can also provide introductions to key decision-makers and help mentees build relationships with other industry professionals and networks.
  • Industry knowledge: Mentors can share their wealth of industry knowledge and expertise with mentees, helping them understand the insurance industry and its workings. This can be particularly valuable for those who are new to the industry or who are looking to expand their skills.

iCAN’s INspire mentoring programme

iCAN recently launched INspire, a self-service mentoring platform which connects members from across the insurance industry with mentors based on their particular needs. Whether a mentee is looking for short term support of a long-term champion, we help to match them with a seasoned senior professional who can provide one-on-one guidance to help them navigate their career goals.

We have over 100 senior employees and leaders from across the market already committed to being a mentor, and we welcome further applications.

To read about our INspire platform, or enrol as a mentee or mentor, visit: https://www.i-can.me/about-inspire

For more information about iCAN and what we do, visit: https://www.i-can.me/.


Related Stories

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!