A survey of registered attendees at this year’s Dive In Festival has identified mental health as the most important issue for the global insurance sector to prioritise over the next year.

Dive In

Among the 11,000 survey respondents, 67 percent identified mental health as a priority for the industry to tackle over the next year. Gender equality and racial inclusion were also identified as key priorities by 45 percent and 42 percent of respondents respectively. 

Jason Groves, chair of Dive In and global director of media relations at Marsh, said the increased focus on mental health was “unsurprising” following the challenges of the past 18 months.

Groves said: “The results of the survey represent a rallying call for organisations to put in place measures to support colleagues from all backgrounds and circumstances, especially as they begin returning to the office.

“The fact that over 10 percent of our events focus on mental health is a reflection of people wanting to talk about that,” he added. 

Cricketing legend Sir Andrew Strauss will lead discussions around mental health at the event, which Groves said will be “incredibly inspiring”. 

Dive In Festival, which was established in 2015, kicks off today and runs until 23 September. The event is put together by more than 500 volunteers to support the development of inclusive workplace cultures in the insurance sector.

This year’s theme focuses on the essential need to create and empower diversity and inclusion allies who can act, rather than just talk.

Last year’s festival, which took place virtually, attracted a record 30,000 participants, an increase of 20,000 from the in-person event the previous year.  

Groves said the event has grown every year, which he noted is “in line with the attitudes of the industry”.

Returning in the same hybrid format, this year’s event aims to educate and empower those in positions of privilege to understand how to be active allies and champions for all.

Attendees of the conference have been urged to turn commitments into actions when supporting underrepresented groups and take responsibility for creating an inclusive workplace.

Commenting on this year’s festival, Jonny Briggs, group head, talent acquisition and diversity and inclusion at Aviva, said this year’s theme “is more important than ever”.

Briggs said: “The past few years have seen major breakthroughs in diversity and inclusion and have spurred many important conversations. But this year’s festival will focus on acting on these conversations and standing up for what is right, allowing us to accelerate the pace of change.”

Another focus of this year’s event is on neurodiversity. Attendees will hear real-life stories from neurodiverse individuals and their allies about their strengths and challenges.

“We want people to be able to talk about being neurodiverse because as this discussion will show they have certain abilities that are really quite particular to them, and we will benefit as an industry from having people who think like that,” Groves commented. 

Findings from the survey also revealed that Dive In is continuing to reach new audiences, with 62 percent of those registered attending for the first time.

Since the launch of Dive In seven years ago, Groves said: “There has been a change of attitudes in the industry about the advantages of having greater diversity in the workforce, but also creating an inclusive environment where people can bring their whole selves to work and the advantages that has.

“It has been timed incredibly well with the rise of the importance of risk in the corporate boardroom,” he added. 

Dominic Christian, chair of Inclusion@Lloyd’s and global chairman of reinsurance solutions at Aon UK, said Dive In has grown “far beyond its roots to become a global diversity and inclusion movement”. 

“Now in its seventh year, it’s incredible to see that the festival is still gaining new audiences across the world, facilitated by the hybrid festival format. We are delighted to welcome a string of high-profile speakers who will help us deliver our message and drive this year’s theme of active allyship,” Christian added. 

Confirmed speakers for this year’s festival include former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who will discuss her experience of active allyship throughout her career. 

In the UK, multi-award-winning director, writer, actor and transgender activist Jake Graf will talk about LGBT+ parenting and presenter, actress and disability activist Samantha Renke will discuss how to become more disability confident. 

In Jordan, Palestinian film director Najwa Najjar will discuss her journey in becoming a successful director in a male-dominated industry.

Global festival partners for this year’s festival include AIG, Aon, Arch, Aviva, Axa, Axis, Chubb, CNA, DLA Piper, Dual, Gallagher, Howden, Kennedys, Liberty Mutual, Lloyd’s, Markel, Marsh and Guy Carpenter, MS Amlin, RenaissanceRe, RMS, Tokio Marine Kiln, Travelers and Willis Towers Watson.

Ronald Reeves, chief diversity officer, human resources at AIG, said the company is proud to be a global sponsor of the Dive In Festival. 

“It’s the industry’s opportunity to really look at how we’re doing in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s time for change and AIG wants to lead the way. At AIG, we stand as allies. When you’re an ally, you deepen your understanding about the different dimensions of diversity, acknowledging that there are issues that need to be addressed, and you’re interested in looking for ways to amplify your voice and join in and make impactful change,” Reeves added.

For a full list of events and registration details, visit the Dive In Festival website.

The Insurer is a committed and avid supporter of the diversity and inclusion agenda and we are very proud to be a media partner for the event.