Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance Award winner: Zurich's Marianne Skinner

Marianne Skinner
Nigel Edwards, senior vice-president, insurance and head of UK & Europe at EXL, presented the Overall D&I champion award to Marianne Skinner, property underwriter at Zurich

Following last month's Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance Awards we caught up with all the winners. Today we feature the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Plus Champion and overall D&I Champion, Marianne Skinner, London Market underwriter at Zurich Insurance and chair of Zurich Pride UK.

Can you explain the thinking behind the Zurich LGBT+ network ‘Pride’?

Our LGBT+ and ally network has had a couple of iterations since it began, always with the focus of being a great support system for LGBT+ colleagues in the workplace.  As we began to expand the network, we thought it was a good opportunity to rebrand from GLEE to a name that was instantly recognisable and embodied exactly how we felt about the network – proud.  We now have three main objectives – to support, to educate and to act as the conscience of the business.

Since launch what has the response/impact been?

The response has generally been very positive - most of the time people want to do and say the right thing, they just need a nudge in the right direction. Our influence has definitely grown year on year as we’ve expanded our reach - we’ve got a greater regional presence than ever before, from Scotland to the Isle of Man, and have managed to coordinate activities across all our UK offices. With increased visibility I hope that our impact has been to reassure people that Zurich is an LGBT+ friendly company.  Rest assured we will continue to push for change.

Where could Z Pride UK go next?

Over the past year or so I’ve noticed that the ability for employee groups to influence the business has really expanded.  While we initially existed to provide a welcoming environment for LGBT+ employees, I’m now seeing us also getting involved in recruitment, procurement, customer journeys, branding – you name it.  Zurich’s leadership has very much embraced the guidance of its employee groups in driving changes across the whole of its UK operations and so I can see Z Pride UK taking on a greater consultancy type role in the future. I would also love to see our internal membership grow and continue to celebrate all things LGBT+ through our events and activities.

Can you expand on why you think it is important to get involved in industry bodies like Link and work with external organisations like Stonewall?

There are countless positive outcomes from collaborating with like-minded organisations. Link offers a great opportunity for individuals and companies within the insurance market to connect and share their stories. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine, sometimes it feels like hard work, but knowing you’re sharing that journey with other LGBT+ individuals, chairs of networks, and people who simply care, really can make a difference. Working with Stonewall is an excellent way to stay true to the things that really matter and helps ensure your company is following best practice; it also has a wealth of knowledge and resources to support that journey.     

How supportive is your employer in terms of raising the profile and boosting the acceptance of D&I across the business?

We’re fortunate to have a very vocal and supportive executive committee, and its belief in promoting D&I feels very genuine. There have been a number of occasions from the last year where Pride has received its endorsement, from executives (including our CEO) attending London Pride, senior leaders completing role model profiles and our exec sponsors speaking at our annual Pride Conference; they’re constantly amplifying the work we’re doing within the employee group. It’s not just Pride either – Zurich has signed up to the Valuable 500 movement towards disability inclusion, launched a whole suite of gender neutral family policies and we now advertise all our roles as available part time or as a job share. We’re definitely pushing on an open door when it comes to D&I.

What was it like being a winner at the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance Awards?

Winning was an incredible experience, especially as the room was full of people I admire and look to for inspiration and guidance. I’ve always hoped I was doing a good job, but to be told you are, and to be counted among people who have been promoting D&I for years, was a real honour. 

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