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Dive In: We Must Accelerate our Actions

07 October 2019

by Megan Walsh

It's been just over a week since this year's Dive In Festival. As sponsors for the third year running, we were delighted to attend the festival to hear about the insurance industry and its journey towards becoming a diverse and inclusive place to work. However, despite what some may think, our overarching take home from the event was that we are not progressing quickly enough.

Following the festival, we spoke to Ik Onyiah, Head of Corporate Projects at Oliver James Associates, who said: “There is some change happening, but the reality is it’s happening far too slowly. Primarily because treating D&I as a separate objective just doesn’t work. We need to be vocal about what we plan to achieve, holding ourselves and others accountable. 

"This will only truly be achieved by interweaving D&I into the everyday – starting at board level and most importantly at middle management, where most organizations face the biggest challenge. Middle management are responsible for driving change because they are the people who interact with the workforce on a daily basis. That is why it is crucial to interweave D&I into their everyday short-term and long-term objectives.”

Today, as more and more data on D&I is collected, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for organisations to shy away from their responsibilities. A McKinsey report found that gender representation at executive level had increased by a mere two per cent to 14%, with ethnic and cultural diversity a rise of just one per cent to 13%.

A further recent BCG report found that nearly half of all UK employees believe their organisations had not made any progress in improving D&I in the last three years.

Meanwhile, in another survey conducted by Lloyd’s, which is the biggest culture survey to date, 6,500 people were asked questions about workplace culture. The results showed that female employees answered more negatively on every single question: while an alarming 8% of people have either witnessed of been the victim of sexual assault in the past 12 months.

It’s a sobering thought, but, since the publication of the survey, Lloyd’s has set up a committee to help drive culture change through the London market with diversity and inclusion at the heart of its agenda.

So, what can we do to ensure diversity and inclusion?

“We need to change the culture of the workplace and put D&I at the centre of everything. Without targets, things don’t get done. It’s human nature. Which is why we must begin to set visible targets and hold ourselves accountable,” says Ik. But more than that, we need people on the ground who see the value add having a diverse and inclusive workforce brings and are able to drive the change through an entire organisation. D&I as a tick-box exercise is not working, the only way forward is to ingrain it into everything that we do.”


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