#BraverCultures at Dive In Festival 2022 – 27 to 29 September – Find out more about Here
“The case for greater diversity and inclusion is clear,” McGovern said. “It’s not the right thing to do but several studies have shown that it improves business performance and employee and customer satisfaction.”
For Darkins, who has dedicated his entire career to creating and supporting strong human resource initiatives, having the opportunity to lead DEI’s work in developing strong businesses is something he takes very seriously. DEI does not have to be complicated, he said, as we have seen in many studies that prove the business of a strong corporate culture.
“Education, benchmarking and best practices provide a wealth of information for companies looking to embark on this journey,” he said. “And going to Dive In is an amazing opportunity [for insurance businesses] To understand more about this, see what other companies are doing and just learn from the experiences that people share. Therefore, I advise everyone to make the most of what Dive In has to offer. “
In his role as head of AXA XL’s HR function in the UK, Mr Darkins supports many businesses in implementing the employee experience and understanding how DEI’s lens fits into its overall strategy. On top of that, he said, is to encourage the establishment of a collective environment that focuses on the needs of workers.
In addition to this, McGovern pointed out that what underpins AXA XL’s focus is the conviction that a diverse approach, approach and experience is critical to its success – today and in the future.
Read more: Dive In: Shaping the future of the insurance industry
The integration is very important because the proper attention given to the various DEI components should not interfere with the work that still needs to be done on the integration. In short, inclusion means that everyone in the organization feels they can work, he said, and that everyone’s needs are considered.
That’s part of what’s been seen during the pandemic and the shift to remote work, Darkins said. Therefore, the insurance sector should not forget this now but instead promote the same understanding in order to encourage all employees to feel empowered to work for the rest of their lives.
There is a lot that can be done on a large and small scale to start or continue the company’s DEI journey and the most important thing to do is to have the right mindset. You don’t always have to have an answer, he said. It is good to ask questions and actively seek opportunities to learn and improve the business.
He said: “It’s really about educating yourself and asking the right questions. “And we all have a role to play as partners, but this has to be removed from the top. So, if you are a senior leader, and you don’t know about the next steps, or how to proceed with this, I would suggest participating in the DEI initiative. If you have business product groups , become an active member. So find yourself and educate yourself to help bring about the change we want across the industry.”
The DEI program can’t work in isolation, Darkins said — it needs to be part of the business and community process. And it should be embedded in the DNA of the business. A strong DEI strategy is one with measurable goals and objectives, which align with the ideas and aspirations of each business.
“For example, at AXA XL, we have a strong DEI strategy and roadmap that is UK based but also aligns with our global thinking,” he said. “As part of this process, we set goals and use benchmarks and metrics to measure our progress. For me, it’s important to understand where we are now, where we need to get to, and how we can do it. So metrics really help in measuring our success.
“I think that when setting goals, they need to be ambitious so that they have meaning. There is no need to set soft goals that we can easily achieve, it is more important to be willing to create the inclusive culture that we want. And those goals cannot be fixed, we have to change and adapt according to what we find, the market and the environment. “
Returning to the leadership role, Darkins said, having the right leaders who are capable and willing to take the necessary steps to achieve those goals is essential. And every partner across AXA XL – including its leadership – has DEI targets that are set at the beginning of each year as part of their mission.
It is this upward trend that has shown many of the initiatives led by AXA XL to promote greater integration within its groups. Its global initiative Empower, which supports talent in managing their careers, is an example of a program that has brought many benefits, he said, and AXA XL is now launching its second team. From the point of view of recruitment, the insurer has implemented its own diversity policy for all positions in different sectors to attract more talented people.
In addition, the group launched its first job-sharing program earlier this year, which has been successful so far, Darkins said, as well as partnering with an organization to help those looking to return to insurance after retirement. The company is also committed to a number of charters and initiatives to support progress – including the Women in Finance charter, the Flexible Working charter and the Race at Work charter.
That’s not just about its business product teams, he said, as AXA XL has expanded its five partner-led global teams into 27 global chapters to help keep insurance policies innovative and progressive. It sounds like a lot, he said, but there is always more to do in this matter since, although the industry is on the right track, the pace of change needs to be stepped up.
McGovern strongly agreed with this, emphasizing that the London insurance market has made significant changes in terms of inclusion and diversity in recent years. The increase in corporate and industrial activity, and events such as the Dive In Festival, are strong examples of that, he said, and it is true that those in charge are praised for this.
“However,” he warned. “I think we all know that we are not where we need to be, and there is still a lot of work to do to get there. I, fortunately, am doing what I can to do something about it, and I encourage my friends and colleagues around the world to do what they can to advance the inclusion and diversity of our industry and beyond. “