Learning Resources

Key learnings from this year's festival

Mind the Diversity Gap – Victoria Derbyshire hosted a panel at Marsh to discuss the gender pay gap

Marsh played host to BBC journalist Victoria Derbyshire as panel moderator for an event called “Mind the Diversity Gap” with keynote speaker Lloyd’s Chair Bruce Carnegie-Brown.

Bruce reflected on the Gender Pay Gap commenting how the market is ‘working not only to bridge the diversity gap but to close it, working together to hasten the change to inspire the young and the bright to choose insurance careers’.

Victoria Derbyshire spoke of her own experiences at the BBC around the publication of the Gender Pay Gap and the resentment it initially created among colleagues when it was revealed that only two of the 10 highest earners were women and that the Gender Pay Gap figure revealed that men earned an average of 9.3% more than their female counterparts. She pointed out that despite initiatives and consultations internally at the BBC to improve gender diversity, she is still one of only five women presenters with their own shows as most women still support rather than lead in the talent line-up. Her conclusion was that if employers treat people fairly and mirror the audiences they serve in the workforce make-up, they can expect happier and more loyal staff.

The event’s three panellists were Emma Brown, Deputy Director, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; Jim Bichard, UK Insurance Leader, PwC; and Chris Lay, CEO UK & Ireland, Marsh. Chris spoke about building female talent pipelines, citing some key stats that 72% of the most recent nominations for new MDs at Marsh were women, with 67% going on to be appointed.

The panel conclusions included advice to stop and think for 15 to 30 seconds on key decisions reflecting, “Does it feel right?”, pausing to break the cycle of old behaviours and make conscious choices that will advance gender equality. Jim summed it up succinctly: “I use behavioural nudges, asking myself what can I do differently, forcing a pause to break the cycle of biases.”

Social Mobility at Aon

Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Aon Katherine Conway played host to a best-practice sharing event in London that posed the questions “Is there a class ceiling?” and “Does institutional classism exist?” In her introduction she made the point that social mobility is not one of the protected characteristics that guards against discrimination at work, making it doubly important to approach it proactively.

Authenticity around how people speak, their background and education should not be allowed to hold them back when it comes to accessing equal opportunities at work. On the flip side, employers should welcome the different perspectives and diversity of experience that recruiting more inclusively can bring into the business.

Katherine challenged the audience, many of who work in HR, to approach recruitment more strategically, viewing process as only ever half the answer. “This industry is really good at collaborating effectively on D&I and we should be proud of that,” she remarked.

Changemakers Laura Bates (Everyday Sexism Project) & Gareth Thomas (commentator & former international rugby player)

Two extraordinary change agents, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project Laura Bates and former international rugby player Gareth Thomas, spoke to a packed venue on the importance being the change you want to see.

Laura Bates spoke about being inspired to start her work after she was sexually assaulted on a bus and followed home by a man who was openly threatening. She founded the Everyday Sexism Project as an opportunity to share stories but found very soon that what she had actually set in motion was the biggest repository of data on the subject that there had ever been. She explained that this wider conversation around sexism has become a convening force, creating great potential and accentuating that we are at a tipping point for change, depending on whether people take action to tackle the problem at an institutional level.

Gareth Thomas gave a moving description of the conversations he had with his family following a period of deep despair and suicidal feelings. He spoke of the acceptance and support after coming out as gay that flowed not only from his family but also from how his team mates rallied.

“I was walking a path no-one had been down before” he said of his first few days in the media spotlight following his decision to come out to the world. “Don’t assume that because there are a few openly gay athletes in rugby, diving, swimming and football that everything is fine now” he commented. He has used his media profile and dedication to creating conditions for other athletes to be the best versions of themselves to lobby parliament for homophobia to be included in the Football Offences Act.

He movingly summed up the impact of being able to be honest on individual performance by saying “Do you know how fast you can run and how high you can jump when you aren’t carrying a huge weight on your shoulders?”

Neurodiversity: Tapping into top talent on the Autistic Spectrum

Autism is a condition that affects 1 in 100 people in the UK. Despite wanting to work and having the skills to do so, only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment. Autism-specific strengths are highly individualistic but frequently include distinctive logical and analytical abilities; an exceptional eye for details, deviations and potential errors; a genuine awareness for quality; and conscientiousness, loyalty and sincerity. As an industry that is highly analytical and that increasingly invests in technology, this is a talent pool we can’t afford to miss out on.

The LMG hosted an event that sought to explore neurodiversity, providing inspiration and practical hints, tips and solutions to help London specialist insurance market organisations create diverse workforces and reap the commercial benefits that it brings.

Alex Wilson, Corporate and Investment Bank Treasurer at Deutsche Bank, alongside intern Adam Livesey, shared his experience of the UK Autism Internship Programme launched at Deutsche Bank. Alex and Adam reflected on this successful strategy, including details of the programme and the lessons they learnt.

Jon Spiers, CEO of Autistica, the UK’s leading autism research charity, shared interesting facts about employment and invited the audience to get involved in a new research initiative.

Also invited to speak was Ray Coyle, CEO of the award-winning IT and compliance consulting business Auticon, where all consultants are on the autism spectrum. Ray spoke about how Auticon creates autism-friendly work environments, while delivering outstanding quality to clients. He described how having both autistic and non-autistic professionals in mixed project teams opens up new perspectives and will often significantly improve work output.