Diversity & Inclusion is rapidly becoming a major topic of conversation for businesses, and a key contributor to the development of happier, more motivated and more productive workplaces. When a company is both diverse and inclusive, it takes its first step towards fostering an employee journey of value, belonging and growth. But how is this achieved? And what commercial benefits does a diverse and inclusive work environment bring? To answer these questions, we must first break down what D&I entails, what movement we’re seeing in the market, and how this new context is impacting businesses at a cultural level.
In essence, Diversity & Inclusion is about respect, appreciation and embracement of everything that makes us unique as both people and employees. While this may sound like an exercise in policy, Diversity & Inclusion represents much more to the modern workplace. It’s an attitudinal movement, celebrating individual opinion and authenticity of self in both careers and businesses. It’s about creating a culture where different voices can come together and be heard; where innovations in strategy and talent retention can thrive, and where the results can translate into real bottom line growth.
Look at the marketplace three years ago, and you would have seen a very different story. Over 80% of our clients had little or no knowledge of, or interaction with, diversity and inclusion in their hiring strategy. The reverse is standard in over 80% of tenders we receive now. This is backed up by a recent survey completed by Inclusion@Lloyd’s, which noted that 71% of professionals in the insurance industry alone believe the culture in their company needs to change to attract and retain top talent. It’s a clear sign that businesses are beginning to recognise the strategic value of D&I, and the fact that it has a far greater role to play as understanding develops. Now, it’s about turning perception into application.
This has certainly been the case at Dive In Festival, the Lloyd’s of London market event dedicated to exploring diversity in the insurance industry. Growing exponentially since its inception in 2015, this corporate festival now has venues in 16 countries hosting talks, webinars, art installations, sporting activities and more on a range of diversity-related topics. 2017’s theme, the Diversity Dividend, focuses on the commercial benefits of a diverse workforce and inclusive culture, driving productivity and innovation across the sector. As sponsors of the festival, we have taken a number of action points from the week’s events, which we hope to build into our existing D&I initiatives.
Considering our own efforts, Oliver James has seen a general lack of awareness regarding diversity and inclusive flourish into real engagement with its benefits. This notion is filtered from the top down, where our management instils best practice in the creation of an inclusive working culture. We have nurtured this kind of thinking in several ways. Firstly, by developing an interview process that foregrounds the importance of diverse talent resourcing. Then, by ensuring every employee receives our unconscious bias training, educating them on the importance of self-awareness and impartiality in business interactions. We also provide access to a Diversity and Inclusion panel that drives decision-making across the business, as well as internal workshops that facilitate this ongoing conversation. This school of thought is bolstered by our uniquely inclusive management style, where everyone is given the opportunity to have their say. Managers are then able to identify and utilise each person’s individual strengths, organically developing a team culture based on interests, opinions and abilities. For us, it’s about breaking down the barriers and creating a platform where D&I is discussed openly.
Supporting our clients is another important element to D&I at Oliver James. We first look to understand current approaches to talent acquisition, management and retention, before challenging their hiring methods, educating them on talent availability, and providing data and diversity reports to support our views. Equally as important as offering our own insight is creating opportunities for clients to learn from their industry peers. As such, we host a range of client workshops in partnership with key external contacts, enabling them to discuss current challenges and strategies for success. Over the next 12-18 months, we’ll be building on these workshops to offer practical advice on new and emerging hiring trends.
Whether it’s driving our own internal programme or developing a comprehensive offering for our clients, Oliver James believes no item on the agenda is more important as we enter a new hiring landscape.