MANAGING GENERAL AGENTS’ ASSOCIATION ///// 17
www.intelligentinsurer.com Diversity and Inclusion Report 2019
SHUTTERSTOCK / STUNNING ART
“It’s to be applauded that we all talk
more openly about issues that have
hat a year it’s been! 2019 seems to have gathered pace
with new initiatives, market reviews, the fifth year of Dive
In, and the Women in Insurance Awards, of which I’m
very humbled to be a finalist in one of the categories.
The insurance sector is beginning to build momentum in
recognising the achievements of women who have for so long been
contributing such good things to our profession, but may not have
been able to step into the light to be recognised for their hard work,
dedication and professionalism.
There is an increasingly broad landscape of change: change in
attitudes, change in recognition of the need to improve gender
diversity, and importantly more women founding, starting and
leading businesses in our sector.
There is still a very low ratio of woman around the boardroom
tables of our sector after the Davies report recommendations for this
diversity some years ago, so there is still a long way to go.
You need only to look at the number of entries to the Women in
Insurance Awards and see some of the inspirational entrants who
have made such a valuable contribution to our sector to know we are
making some worthwhile progress.
It’s not accurate to say that we are almost there, because clearly
some feedback on the Lloyd’s Market survey highlighted some
worrying cultural issues which certainly need to be addressed. With
Inga Beale having highlighted the need to create a more diverse and
equal market landscape and having innovated so many changes for
the better we are certainly heartened by the potential which is now
unfolding to make those meaningful changes.
Lloyd’s CEO John Neal has committed to continuing this more
vigorous approach to ensuring fairness, respect and the cultural
changes which recently shocked so many. Those who thought that
“our work is done” and that equality and inclusion was already
established will have to think again.
It seems to me that in order to achieve the end result that many
have strived for so tirelessly we have to bring everyone together in a
spirit of genuine commitment to make fairness for all our minimum
standard of business operation.
More than that, to attract the best talent and retain it, our approach
to business needs to change, and maybe it already is from the
encouraging signs we see. Back in the early 1990s, as a single mother,
the experiences I had were so awful that to this day it haunts me to
think that if it wasn’t hard enough to raise children and work fulltime,
extra expectations and a punitive lack of support, respect or
understanding made it almost untenable to have any optimism of a
I won’t go into details but I must say the brutal unfairness I
experienced first-hand was a shameful example of how wrong
companies could be.
This leads me on to the link with personal wellbeing, and the
impact of mental health links to stress in the workplace and its effect
on overall business performance. One of the most likely causes or at
least triggers of stress, is feeling bullied or being bullied. Even worse is
the subtle cruelty of some senior management who clearly have issues
of their own, and seem to be great at persuading those more senior,
that they are worthy of their role. For those unfortunate to work for
them, their lives are made miserable.
They never know what will happen next, and worse still, believe
that if they go to anyone in their organisations the perpetrator will
have the backing while they are hung out to dry. That perception is
the helpless trap many are in and they suffer in silence.
This sometimes subtle form of bullying definitely needs to be
rooted out, and that is about making sure that senior team members
can demonstrate empathy and give their teams the respect and
support they deserve.
At the Managing General Agents’ Association (MGAA) we are
thrilled with our NextGen committee which has placed diversity,
inclusion and mental health topics at the core of the committee’s
aims and objectives.
The MGAA is supported and driven by diverse committees which
are steered by market professionals, are gender-diverse and contribute
much of the direction and subject matter that we turn into core
objectives of the association.
As more entrepreneurs found managing general agents and
our community grows, we will be working hard to ensure that our
association is inclusive and supportive of talent and of our sector’s
Our board is committed to reflecting the diversity of our members
businesses and our outreach, and our events programme is constantly
improving our relevance to reflect the needs of our member businesses.
Being on the NetMGA advisory board of the British Insurance
Brokers’ Association (BIBA), the association is very well represented
from a diversity and inclusion perspective and BIBA actively
champions so many initiatives around topics which empower people
in their lives, by showcasing mental health issues with a mental health
panel debate at BIBA 2019.
It was such a powerful session that there was barely a dry eye in the
house. This in itself validates the link between the priority of having
the best type of culture in our businesses to create a place where
people can flourish.
The indicators are more positive for the future for all of us in the
insurance sector. It’s to be applauded that we all talk more openly
about issues that have been taboo, and that we encourage authenticity
and empathy in the places where we work and coexist.
I remain very positive about what the future looks like, one where
we are all able to rely on our merits, our professionalism and our
qualities and to be treated as equals whoever we are. ■
Catherine Bell is chairman of inet3, a Suffolk-based managing
general agent, and chair of the Membership, Benefits, Events
and Training Committee of the MGAA.