ABI and 32 carriers sign Race at Work charter

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) and 32 of its roughly 152 member insurers have signed up to the Race at Work charter.

The charter is designed by Business in the Community (BITC) to improve the experience of black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) people in the workplace.

In signing up to the charter, organisations must commit to appointing an executive sponsor for race, capturing data on staff ethnicity and publicising progress, and ensuring zero tolerance of harassment.

The charter also commits organisations to making workplace equality the responsibility of all leaders and managers, and taking action that supports career progression for Bame people.

The 32 ABI members that have signed up to the charter include Allianz, Aviva, Axa UK & Ireland, Chubb, Covea, Direct Line, Hiscox, RSA and Zurich Insurance UK.

ABI director general Huw Evans told this publication: “There has been a lot of focus on D&I over the last decade in the insurance sector, particularly in the last five years or so.”

In particular Evans noted the DiveIn Festival, the Insurance Supper Club and the Women in Finance initiative.

“We have had all these initiatives but it feels about time that we focus more on the race element of D&I, and in particular that we try to identify basic things that we can all put in place as employers, making it easier for people from an ethnic minority background to come and work for us,” said Evans.

“I’m pleased to see some of our largest members [signing the charter] and they’re not all UK-based,” he added.

“Some of the others who aren’t listed here are looking at it and perhaps they are not in a position to sign up now. This is about trying to make it as easy as possible for firms to make this step.”

As well as signing the Race at Work charter, the ABI has also launched an internal inclusion strategy.

As part of this strategy, the ABI has committed to achieving a 50:50 male to female split across its senior management by 31 December, 2022. Longlists of candidates for senior posts from recruitment agencies must now have a 50:50 gender split.

The association will also use blind recruitment processes to mitigate against the risk of unconscious bias. Evans said that the ABI will no longer shortlist candidates for jobs based on CVs, but instead will ask candidates to fill out questionnaires about their capabilities.

The ABI will also implement “reverse mentoring” for its executive team with junior colleagues from a range of backgrounds.

Finally, the association will roll out cultural awareness training for its staff and a new “speak up policy”, helping employees to understand expectations of conduct and to how to report unacceptable behaviour.

Next year, the ABI said it will launch an industry-wide flexible working and job sharing campaign, aimed at reducing the gender seniority gap and helping people who want to work part time to progress their careers.

The ABI’s Yvonne Braun, director of long-term savings, policy and protection and also the ABI executive sponsor for race, said: “The Black Lives Matter movement has brought home to us all the need for urgent change to deliver greater equality of opportunities.

“Our sector has an important role to play in fostering D&I in business, and we’re proud to commit to the Race at Work charter, alongside 32 of our members, as well as strengthening our own internal commitments to support inclusion at all levels of the ABI.”

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