The role that mentorship and sponsorship opportunities play in creating a diverse and inclusive atmosphere within the insurance industry cannot be overstated. In anticipation of next week’s Women in Insurance Virtual Summit, where he will be moderating a panel on mentorship, British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) chief executive Steve White (pictured) spoke with Insurance Business to discuss his diversity and inclusion journey to date.
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“One of the first ‘initiatives’ I introduced at BIBA on becoming CEO involved young brokers and recognising that people of all ages had valuable input,” he said. “We continue to work on various initiatives to attract new, young talent and this year we are forming a Young Broker Committee which will feed into our other advisory boards to bring a younger, vibrant voice to our Governance structure.
“As with most organisations it’s incumbent on us to do everything we can to promote diversity and inclusion. The fact that so much has changed in the last 10 years shows just how much traction the subject has gained.”
Over his time in the insurance industry, White noted that he has seen the dialogue surrounding inclusivity change. When the financial services agenda started taking diversity seriously, he said, it focused on gender and race, but the dialogue is now multi-faceted, including a clear focus on mentorship. The role of a mentor is fundamentally a supportive one, and they can help mentees to reach their potential. This, in turn, also enables mentors themselves to grow and develop.
“I have been fortunate during my career to work for and with some people whose traits and styles I have been able to mould to form the style I adopt in day-to-day working,” he said. “You could call this the benefit of ‘unofficial mentoring’ – the individuals concerned probably have no idea of the influence they had. As CEO of BIBA I have undertaken a couple of ‘reverse mentoring’ arrangements which I have also found very useful indeed.”
Indeed, according to White, the COVID crisis may have opened up new mentoring opportunities.
“Nothing beats face-to-face interaction, but technology has made communication much easier and more immediate,” he said. “Particularly for younger insurance professionals and those outside the major cities online mentoring is much more accessible, the mentor can respond quickly and in the moment to a particular question as it arises and really provide targeted assistance.
“For the employer, technology also means that it is easier to connect people in a mentoring scheme and to track the performance of the scheme too. We are now seeing technology as an enabler to run our business and it is likely its usage will increase for mentoring and talent development.”
To hear more from Steve White about the value of mentorship, you can sign up for the Women in Insurance Virtual Summit here.