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Culture is at the core of building a diverse and inclusive insurance industry

Opinion

Statistics show that companies with a culture of diversity and inclusion are more successful and better at attracting and retaining top talent. (Photo: iStock)
Statistics show that companies with a culture of diversity and inclusion are more successful and better at attracting and retaining top talent. (Photo: iStock)

Over the past few months I have travelled to multiple cities in the United States and Europe to take part in conversations about diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the insurance industry. The topic, which has concerned Human Capital specialists like me for a long time, has become a global concern and a marker for the success of organizations across all industries.

The business case for D&I has been made and proven true:

  • Companies with more female board members achieved 66% higher performance on invested capital than those with fewer women. – Catalyst
  • Employees are 80% more likely to agree they work for a high-performing organization, when they think their organization is highly committed to, and supportive of diversity, and they feel included. – Deloitte
  • Companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity. – American Sociological Review
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. Companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns. And diversity is probably a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time. – McKinsey & Company

Conferences, workshops and events, such as the Lloyd’s-driven and XL Catlin-sponsored Dive In Festival, which this year went global, are central to moving the conversation about D&I from the business case in the board room, to the office floors of the insurance industry. In addition, active participation of colleagues across all levels and across organizations is crucial to building a diverse and inclusive industry.

Why culture matters


We’re at a place today where it is well understood that the benefits of a more diverse workforce in our industry should matter to all of us, from the top executives to those entering the industry, as it is directly related to our long-term relevance as a sector. It’s no secret that hiring practices and developmental programs are essential to fostering diverse and inclusive organizations. But culture is the element that brings it all together.

For diversity to be a natural outcome, you need a culture that is welcoming to all. Also, the expectation for such a culture has to come from the top, through both the presence and support of diverse leadership. Then, this expectation of diversity and inclusion needs to run through every part of the business. We work in an industry that is centered on relationships, so creating internal relationships that respect the individual sets the tone for the way teams engage with clients and represent the organization.

As my colleague Paul Jardine (XL Catlin Chief Experience Officer) puts it: “Every person, every collaborator is diverse. This includes our inherent traits, such as race, ethnicity, gender and age, and our acquired qualities, like background, education and working style.” So having colleagues across all levels of our organizations learn about and discuss the relevance of the diversity in the workplace leads to fresh perspectives, the development of new ideas and, ultimately, greater innovation.

In today’s global marketplace, many companies, like XL Catlin, have the added advantage of a globally diverse workforce, and the more opportunities we create that allow colleagues to learn from each other and collaborate with each other across geographies, the more benefits we can reap from our differences. The discussions regarding our individual differences, biases and expectations, across levels and across organizations, is one of the most effective tools we have to create a diverse and inclusive culture in our industry. 

Eileen Whelley is Chief Human Resources Officer, XL Catlin. She can be reached at Eileen.whelley@xlcatlin.com. Opinions expressed in this article are her own. 

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