The power of inclusion

Ahead of this year’s Dive In Festival, Munich Re’s global head of diversity, equity and inclusion Sarah Boddey explores the power of inclusion in driving a positive and profitable (re)insurance sector.

As we mark nine years of the Dive In Festival, the insurance industry has much to celebrate. In a short span of time, the composition of our sector has changed significantly – for the better.

The people represented at different levels are now drawn from an increasingly wide and varied pool, a sharp turn from times past. Progress has been particularly evident and welcome in the Lloyd’s ecosystem. After years of advocating for a more inclusive insurance industry, we are now seeing Dive In’s efforts produce tangible improvements. Indeed, Munich Re is a proud global sponsor of Dive In because of a shared belief in, and commitment to, the power of inclusion.

Insurance has a long way to go on inclusion, as it has lagged other sectors for a long time. In a globalised and interdependent world, where the movement of talent is increasingly borderless because of remote working, it’s more important than ever for businesses to take all necessary steps to attract and retain the best talent.

As recent McKinsey research demonstrates, there has been a significant shift towards hybrid work following the pandemic and more than 75 percent of employees prefer it and want some form of flexible working to continue.

Moreover, diverse communities proportionally prefer flexible work, such that not allowing an inclusive working environment is likely to disproportionately harm those working environments already facing an uphill battle.

With over 120 nationalities represented across our employees at Munich Re, we see diversity as one of our greatest competitive advantages. A diverse group of employees means our decision-making processes, including on firm strategy, are informed by a range of considered perspectives and voices from all backgrounds – which is critical for serving a diverse range of clients globally.

Gone are the days when businesses could develop one-size-fits-all products and services and expect their commercial value to translate meaningfully in every market. Diversity of talent means diversity of thought, which means diversity of outcomes and, in a diverse world, that means diversity of reach and engagement too. This matters greatly for a business like ours.

The rate at which we diversify our employee base must align with the rate of change in wider society and in our industry specifically. Seldom is impatience a virtue, but this is one area where we must be impatient for change.

For example, the Association of British Insurers’ talent and diversity research in 2021 found that only 2 percent of insurance executives were ethnic minorities, despite the fact that London – a global hub for specialty (re)insurance – is approximately 40 percent ethnic minorities. Similarly, just 24 percent of executives in the insurance industry were women, compared to 55 percent of new industry joiners being women. These gaps are at odds with our ambition to harness the competitive advantages of diversity, equity and inclusion.

So, what steps are we taking to lead the course of change in our sector? Munich Re’s Ambition 2025 strategy is committed to having a minimum of 40 percent of women in management below the board of management. We have also implemented group-wide initiatives to make progress in all diversity dimensions, to foster local initiatives and to give all employees and managers a voice. And as part of our diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, we work hard to build inclusion into everything we do. After all, what good is a diverse talent pool if there is a lack of infrastructure for inclusivity?

Munich Re has a solid track record of excellence and, for the reasons set out above, we can only sustain this if we are intentional about diversity, equity and inclusion – and deliver on our promises.

By the time we celebrate the tenth Dive In festival next year, we want to be part of an insurance sector that is several steps ahead of where we are today. Across the industry, we hope to see an increased allocation of resources towards measures to be equitable and inclusive. Doing so will not only benefit those individual businesses, but the sector – and society – as a whole.

It’s a bold claim but, considering the wealth of research positively correlating diversity, equity and inclusion to improved performance, we are confident the data are in our favour. Put simply, striving for diversity, equity and inclusion is not just the right thing to do, it is also smart business.