Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Last week, we reported that the FCA, PRA and the Bank of England had released a joint discussion paper on diversity and inclusion in financial services. In this article, Katherine Watkins looks at how firms can approach this in regards to their policies and processes…

A consequence of the BLM movement, corporations around the world, including those within the insurance industry applied increased focus to institutional racism and overt prejudice. Some insurance firms have taken significant steps in capturing the right information around DE&I and have become signatories of the UK government’s Race at Work Charter, introducing a number of initiatives to support its five calls to action for leaders and organisations across all sectors:

The Charter - Five Calls to Action

Signatories will:

  1. Appoint an Executive Sponsor for Race

Executive Sponsors for Race provide visible leadership on race and ethnicity in their organisation and can drive key actions such as setting targets for ethnic minority representation, briefing recruitment agencies, and supporting mentoring and sponsorship.

  1. Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress

Capturing ethnicity data is important to establishing a baseline and measuring progress. It is also a crucial step towards an organisation being able to report on ethnicity pay.

  1. Commit at Board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying

The Race at Work Survey revealed that 25% of ethnic minority employees reported that they had witnessed or experienced racial harassment or bullying from managers. Commitment from the top is needed to achieve change.

  1. Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers

Actions can include ensuring that performance objectives for leaders and managers cover their responsibilities to support fairness for all staff.

  1. Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression

Actions can include embedding mentoring, reverse mentoring, and sponsorship in their organisations.

What needs to change?

It could be argued that 2021 must be the DE&I “year of action” for business, and specifically the insurance industry, to come together and tackle the challenges facing ethnic minorities and those from outside the UK working in the insurance industry.

Action is happening and has happened due to the dialogue around DE&I, which has been growing and amplifying for many years. DE&I is not an easy landscape to navigate, and often employees, managers and HR can find discussions and initiative for DE&I challenging. DE&I should be treated as any change management process:

  • Acknowledge that strategy delivery is just as important as strategy design
  • Accept that you are accountable for delivering the initiative you have designed
  • Dedicate and mobilise the right resources
  • Be bold, stay focused, and keep it as simple as possible
  • Promote team engagement and effective cross-business cooperation
  • Develop robust plans but allow for missteps – Fail fast to learn fast
  • Celebrate success

The FCA has committed to working with the PRA on a join approach to D&I in all financial services firms. You will be asked more difficult questions related to the fit and proper status of the culture of your business to ensure it is open and inclusive and provides a safe space for colleagues at all levels of the organisation.

It is essential you engage with the HR experts at IHRS to review and consider how fit and ready your strategies, processes and policies are in relation to the FCA and government charters.

Contact the IHRS team today and take the worry out of your day. Email HRhelp@ihrsolutions.co.uk, call 01604 709509 or visit the website.

About the author

Katherine is a member of the senior management team at RWA. She has over 20 years’ international experience working in HR, across various sectors, including financial services, insurance and regulated environments. Over the years, she has collaborated with some exceptionally talented HR professionals, with whom she has joined forces on special projects. Her network of HR professionals provides advice and training to companies and other HR teams.

In her role with RWA, Katherine heads up RWA’s Human Resources Consultancy and provides objective support to firms on employment law and HR issues. She uses her extensive skills and knowledge to work with firms to help them develop strong and resilient HR strategies and establish healthy organisational cultures.

Katherine holds a degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Northampton and a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resource Strategies from London Metropolitan University. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD).

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