Global Outlook

Charting the course to action

A year in review

What was once considered a discretionary add on or the sole responsibility of HR, diversity and inclusion has become an important part of business strategy. As global awareness of diversity and inclusion increased, along with it came a wealth of research. This multi-sector review of the most prominent reports produced in 2017 across insurance and other sectors gives an insight in to the trends, highlights and key findings that have shaped the progress and actions of the Inclusion@Lloyd’s committee throughout 2017.

Throughout the year, workplace culture dominated headlines from the a-list #MeToo campaign out of Hollywood to the predicted results and subsequent gearing up to Gender Pay Gap reporting in the UK. As transparency from the top became more important to employees, shareholders, customers and even the public, leaders understand that the impact of accountability has more weight than ever.

The financial services and consulting industries continue to take the lead in terms of volume of research, looking at issues of gender equality, inclusive workforces, ethnicity on boards and LGBT. These organisations give guidance to others competing in the global marketplace and highlight issues that are apparent at a global scale, not only defined by territory. In addition, the year saw a distinct uplift in awareness of mental health in the workplace, not only in qualifying research but also more generally through campaigns aimed to highlight the topic throughout the corporate space.

KPMG drew attention to this in its report Bring your whole self to work (May ’17), as it seeks to empower employees to think about inclusion in its entirety for all employees rather than siloed themes, placing emphasis on inclusion before diversity.

The number of executives who cited inclusion as a top priority has risen by 32% since 2014 (Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends (Feb ‘17). In addition, PwC’s Opening up on diversity: Getting to grips with the reputational risks (Feb ‘17) cites diversity and inclusion as a reputational risk that financial services firms can’t afford to ignore.

  • 32%

    The number of executives who cited inclusion as a top priority has risen by

  • 85

    of the 1,050 director positions in the FTSE 100 are held by people from ethnic minorities

  • 51

    companies of the FTSE 100 do not have any ethnic minorities on their Boards at all

At a board level, The Parker Review’s Ethnic Diversity of UK Boards (12 Oct ‘17) was the most prominent report to be released in 2017 looking at the ethnic composition of boards in the UK. It found that at the end of July 2017, only 85 of the 1,050 director positions in the FTSE 100 are held by people from ethnic minorities (of which four hold two Board positions). Also, 51 companies of the FTSE 100 do not have any ethnic minorities on their boards at all. Following this, the Parker Review Committee aims to increase the ethnic diversity of UK boards by developing candidates for the pipeline and planning for succession alongside enhancing transparency and disclosure.

Further, Bain’s Charting the Course: Getting Women to the Top (31 Jan ‘17) examines the bias that can hold women back from being promoted and achieving senior positions. McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org's Women in the Workplace 2017 (10 Oct '17) draws on data from 222 companies as well as on a survey of over 70,000 employees and a series of qualitative interviews to show the gender disparities still present in workplaces, especially among women of colour.

In the insurance sector, gender was still the recurring theme. STEMconnector’s Women in Insurance (October ‘17) provides a deeper dive into the state of gender equality in the industry and presents promising results that leadership teams are voicing an increased desire to nurture female talent to achieve parity.

The London Market Group (LMG) and The Boston Consulting Group’s London Matters (May ’17) provides an update on its 2014 review of the London insurance market and highlights how diversity continues to be a challenge, particularly at the male dominated director level, reminding the industry that change takes time. In response, it calls for a heightened urgency in promoting diverse talent into senior roles.

For organisations at the start of the D&I journey who feel they need to ‘catch up’, many opt for targeting gender first. Saint Joseph’s University’s Study on Insurance Industry Demographics (December ‘17) found that women are still underrepresented in leadership. However, it’s encouraging to see that progress in the representation of women on boards has been made since their initial study in 2013.

In the summer, I@L conducted its own global research among the attendees of the Dive In Festival, asking for perceptions of D&I in their respective organisations throughout the insurance sector. Results found that employees believe further focus should be placed upon mental health and LGBT before other themes, so it’s encouraging to see the emergence of research in these areas. EY produced a series of practical guides and toolkits during 2017 including Making it real — globally that includes nine steps to advancing LGBT inclusion across global companies, and EMEIA gender transition on support for those transitioning.

Overall, 2017 was a considerable year for research in the D&I space. We encourage you to take some time exploring the reports above to drive awareness and action in your own organisations.