Ethnicity and mental health dominate D&I agenda

Ethnicity, family and care situations and mental health were the big themes at this year’s Dive In Festival and with over 21,000 people registering, it was a record-breaking year for the festival.

Speaking to The Insurer following the festival, Marc McKenna-Coles, global diversity & inclusion manager at Lloyd’s said he was “absolutely ecstatic by how it turned out.”

“For me, a highlight was very much knowing that there were over 400 volunteers really rooting together to bring such a rich, diverse range of topics and topics in certain locations that probably a few years ago they wouldn’t be having discussions about.”

Across the globe, the most consistent conversations were about ethnicity, family and care and mental health, McKenna-Coles told The Insurer during a video interview.

“I think the whole topic around ethnicity off the back of many different particular scenarios, for example George Floyd in the US, has been very important and we had some very fruitful conversations about that. These were probably the most hard hitting,” he said.

“In the UK, we had events around white privilege and we spelt out exactly what that is, looking at what white privilege means. That can be an uncomfortable conversation for many many people, but when people start to understand what we mean by white privilege then actually people start really thinking, ‘okay I get where we’re coming from’.

“This is not just a political saying, there is something there and it needs to be spoken about. We also need to know and understand the inner qualities of people when it comes to race,” he said.

The Dive In Festival also explored who the pandemic has moved the dialogue on around mental health which has become a big topic in 2020.

“If we talk about mental health and people really being honest about their mental health, there is a lot of conversation to be had and much more we can do as a community,” he said.

Indeed, mental health has become an even bigger talking point for many following Covid-19 and the impact it’s had on people’s living and working situations.

On the notion of allyship, which Marc McKenna-Coles described as “standing beside a particular minority group, that you don’t actually speak for, but you speak on behalf of,” he said this is an increasingly important of the D&I agenda.

“We did huge amounts this year about allyship and there was a lot of conversation about this. It has always been associated for many years with the LGBT community but allyship, in its core principle, is actually about speaking up and not walking past that negative and irresponsible behaviour and making sure that you are educated around the particular topics,” he said.

“For me I didn’t know huge amounts around race and ethnicity, and I went out there and tried and continue to educate myself on what people need to do and that’s very much what allies need to do, but they must also give space for others to speak as well,” he added.

In order to keep the momentum about around this incredibly important topic, the industry can’t just focus on D&I over three days in September, it has to be all year around.

“I don’t want people to wait for Dive In to happen next year,” he said.

“Throughout the year, we’ve got to keep those conversations going,” and he looks forward to activities around Black History Month this month and other significant events around Pride Month, mental health day and International Women’s Day next year, among others.

The Insurer is a proud media partner of #DiveIn2020.

Visit to find out more about this year’s events.