Mike Keating shares how the MGAA's new DE&I programme came about

Relevance, timeliness and proportionality have been the key to its development

Mike Keating shares how the MGAA's new DE&I programme came about

Diversity & Inclusion

By Mia Wallace

There’s a clear ambition linking all the initiatives, conferences, reports and webinars crafted by the Managing General Agents’ Association (MGAA) – one of empowering its members to achieve sustainable success.

For CEO Mike Keating (pictured) and his team at the MGAA, realising this objective requires a dual approach of regular membership engagement alongside an ever-present ear to the ground of the regulatory, economic, social and political factors upsetting the status quo. As a trade association, the MGAA is always looking to be ahead of the curve, he said, and to deliver a membership proposition which is both relevant and timely.

Such was the thought process behind the MGAA’s recently announced new benefit which offers advanced Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) training to all members. Keating noted that the association is made up of MGAs, supplier partners and insurer members alike but, zeroing in on its MGA members only reveals almost 200 businesses of every size, scale and structure.

“So, what we wanted to do was embed this offering in our membership proposition… and put together a very professional DE&I programme to support all our members in ensuring they can embrace this extremely important topic,” he said. “This is not a tick box exercise. The regulator has got a very close eye on DE&I and it’s constantly asking for more data around boardroom splits, ethnicity splits etc.

What’s included in this ground-breaking DE&I programme?

To date, the MGAA has been ably supported by its insurer and supplier members who have provided timely market briefings on a range of DE&I subjects, Keating said, but the time is right to take that to the next level in the form of an embedded membership proposition. So, working alongside its training partners Searchlight Insurance Training, the association is delighted to reveal its new programme which includes:

• Bi-monthly training webinars aimed at senior managers and directors

• Bi-monthly podcasts and pre-recorded webinars suitable for all staff

• Monthly DE&I articles to help members better understand DE&I, learn what’s new. These will also provide comprehensive tips and support

• A Summer roundtable event – allowing members to spend time with DE&I specialists and discuss the DE&I journeys of their own organisations

Keating highlighted that the programme has been deliberately designed to appeal to the full spectrum of the MGAA membership, serving as a refresher for those with established DE&I programmes, a motivator for those currently on that journey and a guide for those yet to begin. Proportionality is the key here, he said, because the level of engagement possible and appropriate will vary from business to business.

This is why the MGAA is so glad to be partnering with Searchlight for this programme, he said, because they are experts in creating proportional, accessible programmes. And this is really about getting everybody comfortable with discussing DE&I in the context of their own businesses, so it becomes part of the DNA of those businesses rather than an afterthought.

Moving beyond a box-checking approach to DE&I

The approach to DE&I as a board-level agenda topic and a crucial consideration for businesses represents a seismic shift from the days when it was seen as something of a box-checking exercise. From interactions across the market, he said, it’s clear that this is something the regulator is taking increasingly seriously but, even beyond that regulatory piece, there are other considerations to take into account including that creating inclusive environments is critical to creating a healthy, sustainable marketplace – and a key weapon in the war for talent in insurance.

The recruitment market is extremely tough,” he said. “And clearly people now are [more selective] about where they want to work. Far more so than in my younger days… People are asking more questions about an organisation’s DE&I programme and strategy, they want to work for more inclusive places.

“[…]And so the work we’ve started as an association to bring DE&I into our membership proposition, and hopefully, our members embracing that will just add another piece to their toolkit for attracting and retaining new and great talent.”

Mike Keating’s message to the MGAA’s membership

The proposition has been created with the MGAA’s members in mind and, as a result, Keating is very keen to see the association’s membership engage with the enhanced offering. Even those organisations which have rightly embraced DE&I for some time now will find something of value here, he said, as he firmly believes that the key to long-term success is never allowing room for complacency.

“If I was back with my MGA hat on and we had a fantastic DE&I strategy, I would sign up to this just to validate where we're at and to see if we could gain any new ideas,” he said. “I don't think you can continue to embrace DE&I and develop it in a silo. I think you always need to benchmark against and collaborate with your peers, colleagues and other organisations, because I think everyone's trying to do the right thing.

“[…] So, we're very proud and excited that we can include this as an embedded membership benefit,” he said. “I personally feel that it's very relevant, it's very timely and it's just the sort of thing we as an association need to be anticipating for our members. And I'm very confident that we'll get a high proportion of our members taking up this particular membership proposition.”

What are your thoughts on the MGA’s new DE&I strategy? Please feel free to share your comments below.


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