These days, it’s well known and documented that ‘diversity’ in a business is the key to outperforming peers on market share, profitability, productivity, innovation, decision-making and performance.
No one would deny that the modern Australia is very diverse in culture, perspectives and experience and most insurance organisations would argue this is well-reflected by their staff.
So where are the gains?
Research now suggests that the missing ingredient is inclusion. In other words, a diverse workforce will not function at its best unless all its individuals feel welcomed and part of the group.
Sounds like common sense, but the challenge of inclusion lies in the fact that it means different things to different people and has been difficult to measure and operationalise.
NOT ONE-SIZE FITS ALL
Inclusion is not a ‘one size fits all’ concept.
How included people feel in a culture or organisation is very much driven by where they stand in it, and how they experience it and that experience can varies dramatically depending on who you are.
We all know that when it comes down to it, organisational cultures ‘fit’ some people better than others, and specifically, they tend to fit the dominant groups more.
Looking at inclusion from the perspective of a broader range of people is crucial.
DIVE IN TACKLES THE SCOPE OF INCLUSION
Understanding how diverse people experience inclusion at work is key to driving impactful change where it matters.
SURA and Wotton + Kearney, in partnership with ANZIIF and diversity and inclusion expert Dr Jennifer Whelan (Psynapse Psychometrics) surveyed over 600 people working across the insurance industry on how they perceive inclusion at work.
The survey explored issues from leader capability and inclusion practices, to flexible work and psychological safety.
SAMPLE SIZE PRESENTS A CHALLENGE
Frustratingly, rigorous data was difficult to obtain and inclusion for some demographic groups remains difficult to understand without large representative samples of employees.
As part of this challenge, Dr Whelan developed an ‘Inclusion Index’ ranging from 1 (not inclusive) to 6 (very inclusive).
Interestingly, over 58 per cent of the 600 insurance industry respondents agreed to some extent that their workplace is inclusive overall.
The Inclusion Index was then used examine demographic groups more specifically:
VULNERABILITY OF THE YOUNG
Given the outward confidence and ambition of younger employees these days, the survey reveals the unexpected fact that people over 45 years of age feel more included overall compared to younger people.
Most respondents were between 36 and 55 years of age and the Inclusion Index differed significantly between them. However, inclusion scores generally increased in older respondents.
Those aged between 46 to over 65 years of age felt significantly more included than those aged between 18-45.
Notably, younger people were more likely to agree that a certain kind of person is more likely to get ahead, that working flexibly would be a barrier to promotion, and that their commitment would be questioned if they worked flexibly.
Those aged over 46 agreed more strongly than younger people that they have the flexibility they need and are comfortable being themselves at work.
AT THE COAL FACE
Another result of concern is that people in operational roles, such as client facing insurance services and other business-critical functions felt less included than those working in business support functions.
This item offered a large range of response categories, many of which had very few respondents, making analysis less reliable.
As a result, data for this item was collapsed to create two primary role categories:
Business support comprised administration, HR, IT, finance and accounting, as well as marketing and communications.
Operational comprised brokers, underwriters, claims people and loss adjustors.
Inclusion index scores were significantly higher for people working in business support functions compared to operational roles, and this difference was particularly strong and consistent across the whole survey.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
At this year’s Dive In event, Dr Whelan will unpack all the insights from this survey and lead a discussion with audience participants across four key themes including:
- Closing the gender gap in inclusion
- Enabling more flexible ways of working
- Better engaging with employees across generations
- Enhancing leaders’ understanding of their inclusion impact
Using a practical inclusion model called the Heart, Head and Habits of Inclusion, Dr Whelan and our graphic artist will capture tangible actions that you can use across your organisation now to help make the insurance and risk industry as a whole measurably more inclusive.
ANZIIF members will receive a special invitation to a special Dive In event at which partners Wotton + Kearney and SURA will launch the research.
Please join Dr Whelan and our event sponsors, SURA, Wotton + Kearney and Liberty Specialty Markets to generate impactful solutions for driving greater inclusion impact.
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