Dive in 2017: Diversity and inclusion must be authentic


Small firms needn't fear their lack of resources will make being diverse a challenge but must be authentic, a London market audience has been told.

Speaking at the Lloyd’s of London Dive In festival, Kate Headley, director of consulting at The Clear Company, said: “Small organisations are gifted with being fleet of foot, nimble, close to their staff, close to their customers and entreprenial. These are all positives for them when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

Headley quoted a survey stating that 99% of smaller organisations are closer to being diverse than bigger organisations.

Headley also sought to dispell the myth that achieving diversity is difficult: “It’s purely about reaching strategy goals.”

Joanna Browning, HR director at Markel International, explained her firm was two years into its diversity journey and had started with simply weaving diversity into exisiting areas of work before taking more significant steps such as signing the Time to Change mental health pledge this week.

She explained: “Diversity is not something you have to achieve overnight and it’s important to weave it into the business. But whatever you do, make sure it is authentic and not just ticking a box, as staff can tell when it doesn’t ring true.”

William Wilson, head of HR at Miller Insurance Services, admitted he had become worried about the lack of diversity in his team but said rather than forcing people to embrace change, it asked who wanted to be involved and “the best and brightest” stepped forward, which he believed is crucial to making D&I policies work.

His fellow panellist Oliver Hutchings, head of division for the Mediterranean and Middle East at Charles Taylor, echoed this, adding that change doesn’t always need to come from the HR department. He added that in his firm, change started with the recognition that staff are core to insurance and that investment must be made in this area.

Susanna Berlevy, group HR director at Ed Broking, concluded that the facts state their own case when it comes to diversity, as studies have shown that companies that are diverse will outperform less diverse competitors by 30%. 

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