CEOs and managers need to be role models in how they embrace inclusivity and here even the subtlest of actions can have the greatest impact

“If you build it, they will come.” I’m slightly misquoting the famous line from the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams, but it nevertheless feels particularly apt at the moment.

The noise around diversity and how to achieve it in the London market has been getting steadily louder in recent months.

In a recent London market survey by law firm DWF, creating greater workforce diversity was highlighted as one of the greatest immediate challenges to the insurance market.

But in discussing how to achieve this with individuals from the market, I often get the same response:
“We just need to hire more women/LGBT people/people from X, Y or Z community.”

The market likes straightforward answers to complex problems, but I’m afraid this one doesn’t quite fit the bill.

I’m told that at lots of London market firms, graduate recruitment is largely gender-balanced and well diversified in terms of background.

The real challenge is: how do we get these new recruits to stay when their background, their values or their interests are not reflected in the workplace around them?

All employees need to feel as if they are a valued part of the team and the market they work in – not just on a working level, but on a social level too.

To do that, we need to move away from the old-school mentalities and start thinking differently about how we interact with others. We need to build a culture which is comfortable for everyone.

Which is why the Inclusive Behaviours Pledge feels like such a step forward for this industry.

Fifty companies so far have promised to create a more inclusive culture at their companies, and call out discrimination when it occurs. I am looking forward to seeing that number grow exponentially.

This year’s DiveIn festival has also chosen inclusion as its topic for the year, which will only serve to push the conversation on further.

In its fourth year, the event (which has fanned out to 50 cities globally) will help insurance get fit for the future, providing practical ideas and inspiration for how to bring about positive change.

As executives discussed yesterday, culture change needs to be led from the front, and CEOs and managers need to be role models in how they embrace inclusivity. And here, even the subtlest of actions can have the greatest impact.

The rewards for inclusivity are there for the taking: McKinsey diversity research found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

And top-quartile companies for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to financially outperform their industry average.

As is the case with these things, the results of these initiatives will not be immediately apparent, nor will it have an immediate impact on the market’s bottom line.

But the market should have faith that, if it builds the right culture, then the talent – and the rewards – will come.