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South Africa’s Insurance Sector embraces Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

12 October 2017
From Left to right – Liza Kok (Aon), Caroline Willis (Willis), Mpumelelo Gegana (Marsh), Olivia Smith (Allianz), Zanele Dintwa (Aon), Charlene Namdhari (AIG), Refilwe Moletsane (AIG), Lindsay Evard (AIG)

From Left to right – Liza Kok (Aon), Caroline Willis (Willis), Mpumelelo Gegana (Marsh), Olivia Smith (Allianz), Zanele Dintwa (Aon), Charlene Namdhari (AIG), Refilwe Moletsane (AIG), Lindsay Evard (AIG)

From left to right:  Chris Caalsen (Chubb Insurance), Nonhlanhla Mzolo (Aon), Zanele Dintwa (Aon), Tholakele Tshabalala (AIG), Eric Dom (AIG), Sitsaba Bekwa (Marsh), Nicky Eveleigh (Marsh), Gary Ferguson (Aon

From left to right: Chris Caalsen (Chubb Insurance), Nonhlanhla Mzolo (Aon), Zanele Dintwa (Aon), Tholakele Tshabalala (AIG), Eric Dom (AIG), Sitsaba Bekwa (Marsh), Nicky Eveleigh (Marsh), Gary Ferguson (Aon

South Africa’s leading insurance role players joined forces to participate in a global industry ‘Diversity and Inclusion Festival’ initiated by Lloyds of London. The Dive In Festival was held for the first time in South Africa on 27 Sep 2017, and was supported by Aon South Africa, Marsh, Willis Towers Watson, AIG, Allianz and Chubb Insurance.

Dive In 2017 is the third global event since Lloyds initiated it in 2015. The South African rendition of Dive In ran alongside events in global locations such as London, New York City, Zurich, Bermuda, Beijing, Perth, Melbourne, Leeds, Mumbai and more.  This year’s theme, the Diversity Dividend, aimed to connect the festival content to the business case for diversity and inclusion best practice, focussing on the bottom line business benefits to an organisation of a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture, driving productivity and innovation across the market.

Dominic Christian, Chair of Inclusion@Lloyd’s and CEO of Aon UK said: “The Dive In festival is a catalyst for the global insurance industry that inspires collaboration around the key issues of talent and innovation. Bold, brave initiatives like this are needed to drive the agenda for inclusive working cultures and customer centricity to keep the insurance sector focused on staying globally competitive and relevant.”

The support from the industry demonstrates the ambition to work together to shift the perception of insurance to one that attracts people who are innovative and agile – this is essential if we are to meet the rapidly changing needs of a global client base.

The South African rendition focused on differing ability and disabilities, transformation, gender in the workplace, intergenerational dialogue and diversity winning work behaviours.  Industry leaders and experts joined forces to lead round tables and dialogues around best practice in diversity and inclusion, an especially important topic in South Africa’s multicultural and diverse workforce and economy.    

Views from Dive In partners and sponsors:

Zanele Dintwa, Head: Employee Engagement & HR Business Partner:  Retail & Broking At Aon South Africa

“The financial services sector is the cornerstone of the South African economy. All other sectors rely heavily on us for their economic sustainability. Businesses and individuals cannot be economically active without banking and insurance. The importance of this initiative is thus not only for this industry, but for the overall inclusive growth agenda of the South African economy.  We understand that we are diverse and all have unique perspectives. We also understand that creating an environment that includes all these perspectives equally is the key to a progressive and solution-driven workplace.

“The Dive In festival is an opportunity for us to assess the maturity level of the industry’s diversity and inclusion agenda as a start and to fuel the conversation which translates into action.  The hope is that the event will ignite a platform for further collaborations which can yield much needed creative solutions for our industry. We are an industry in transition and we have to be intentional about the direction that we are taking.” 

Annelot Schrijver, co-chair Inclusion & Diversity, CEEMEA region, Willis Towers Watson:  “Diversity and inclusion has a direct impact on our ability to grow and succeed. An inclusive culture that embraces diverse ideas and perspectives is critical to our ongoing, collective success. It will produce the best outcomes for our company, our colleagues and our clients. Given the diversity of South Africa’s insurance sector, it makes inclusion even more important. As an organisation we are committed to creating an inclusive environment that engages our colleagues, fuels creativity and innovation and drives efficiencies.  We want our colleagues to feel valued and respected in an environment that embraces a diversity of backgrounds, views and cultures.   Attracting, developing, engaging and retaining colleagues who represent a diversity of backgrounds, views and cultures are key to understanding our clients and solving their risk challenges, now and into the future.   It is our hope that the seeds planted at this event will continue to grow and that we collectively take the baton to build on and share our knowledge and best practices around diversity and inclusion for the benefit of our industry.” 

Gary Jack, Country President, Chubb Insurance South Africa Limited:  “South Africa and Africa as a whole is one of the most diverse regions in the world, so diversity and inclusion is important.  Although much work has been done in creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces there is still work to be done. Woman currently hold less than 4% of CEO positions in JSE listed companies. What’s more, in the financial services sector 60% of female millennials see opportunities for career progression as the most important attribute in an employer, however barely 35% feel as if they can rise to senior positions within their organisations. 

“Another element of diversity that is not always included in typical discussions is generational diversity. Millennials will make up 25% of the global workforce by 2025.  They are the future of our industry, and they have very different expectations of their working life.  If we fail to be a diverse and inclusive industry, at best we won’t reflect the society we are here to serve. 

“Dive In provides a great platform to raise awareness about important issues such as breaking down unconscious bias and the benefits for diverse and inclusive organisations. Diversity and inclusion is not a tick-box exercise - for real equality to happen there needs to be a shift in organisational culture and a commitment to building the right culture.”

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