London market urged to take greater steps on ethnic diversity

A new study on the ethnic diversity in the London market has said there is still far more to do to make the industry more diverse and enable BAME staff to feel confident they can raise issues with their management.

In the wake of Lloyd’s recent annual Culture Survey, which for the first time revealed data about market employees’ work experiences based on their ethnicity, has prompted the African-Caribbean Insurance Network (ACIN) to issue a new report that spells out its Six Steps to Racial Inclusivity.

The Lloyd’s 2020 survey found that only 46% of black people working in London believe senior leaders create opportunities for everyone, compared to 74% of all respondents. More than twice the number of black employees – almost a third – have seen people turn a blind eye to inappropriate behaviour, compared to just 15% of all respondents.

However, the culture survey said that it would focus on the issue of ethnic diversity as a priority for the coming year and beyond.

The ACIN report has spelt out that for BAME staff there remain issues over the ability to highlight issues and behaviour.

“Ethnic minority employees are bottling-up race-related issues and grievances which they do not feel comfortable discussing with line managers or HR departments, potentially creating a mental health time-bomb. The London market needs to create an outlet for people with these concerns, who feel unsupported by the existing processes and protocols.” said Inyang Udosen, ACIN member and Technical Manager, Miller.

The ACIN report added; “Just 2% of the UK Insurance workforce come from black backgrounds which is highly disproportionate to the number of black people in the UK. This demonstrates that ethnic diversity has not been prioritised and existing efforts are yet to penetrate the mainstream of the London Insurance Market.

“Yesterday was the best time for change. The second-best time is now. Now is the right moment for corporate executives to agree that if our talent base is to be as skilled and rich as possible, we must make our market’s culture welcoming to people from non-white backgrounds. Now is the time to realise that, for our businesses to achieve the greatest possible success, we must improve ethnic membership at all levels within our ranks.”

ACIN co-founder Junior Garba said there were some positives that came from Lloyd’s survey.

“We’re pleased that the survey revealed improvements to gender-related equality in the marketplace,” he said. “Obviously half of visible ethnic minority people are women, so that’s good news for our members. Plus, we know that a better gender-balanced workplace is typically a more inclusive one.

“However, the starkly different survey findings for black people working in the Lloyd’s market show the urgent need for market leaders to take action to create racial inclusivity within organisations,” he said. “Diversity without inclusion is just box-ticking, but companies that are both diverse and inclusive achieve appreciably better bottom-line results.”

Each of ACIN’s Six Steps to Racial Inclusivity is based on input from 50 black professionals spanning 20 London-market companies. Some directly address the issues identified in Lloyd’s Culture Survey. Mr Garba said, some Lloyd’s companies have begun to implement the Six Steps by:

  • implementing three-pillar ethnic diversity strategies covering L&D, recruitment, and culture;
  • launching Employee Resource Groups for black and minority ethnic employees;
  • engaging diverse recruiters (including ACIN Recruit); and
  • reviewing preferred recruitment suppliers to drop those which fail to meet diversity standards.

“All progress is encouraging,” added ACIN co-founder Godwin Sosi. “We are very pleased that Lloyd’s has said it will work at ‘improving the experience of Black and Minority Ethnic talent as a top priority’, but there’s a long way still to travel. ACIN is here to provide hands-on help to any Lloyd’s or London market company that wants to improve its racial inclusion by implementing the Six Steps, and to support their diversity through ACIN Recruit.”

The Lloyd’s 2020 survey found that only 46% of black people working in London believe senior leaders create opportunities for everyone, compared to 74% of all respondents. More than twice the number of black employees – almost a third – have seen people turn a blind eye to inappropriate behaviour, compared to just 15% of all respondents.

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