Inga Beale: Diversity needed to future-proof the industry

Inga Beale: Diversity needed to future-proof the industry

Inga Beale: Diversity needed to future-proof the industry By Lucy Hook

The insurance industry needs to better embrace diversity – that much we already know.

But doing so is not just the right thing to do, or even beneficial to business, but is essential to facing the challenges that lie ahead for the industry, Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd’s has said.

“The world is changing, and we know the economic power is going to be shifting to countries that we aren’t perhaps that familiar with dealing with,” Beale said at a Dive-In festival event in London, of which Insurance Business is an official media partner.

As customer demographics change, so too must the workforce: “People are going to be buying insurance in a different way, and coming from different cultures, they’re going to want different people who reflect them more and more,” Beale explained.

The industry must adapt from its present state, which “doesn’t look like the future customers or economic powerhouses,” she said.

Brian Duperreault, CEO of Hamilton Insurance, agreed that the customer demographic is “incredibly diverse… and getting more so by the minute.”

Speaking at the Dive-In event, he said: “If that’s your customer, then you better figure it out. It’s not just another world that’s changed; your own world, where you live and breathe and make most of your money is changing rapidly.”

Putting your workforce together in a way that reflects the buyer is a strategic imperative “right now”, Duperreault said.

On top of the challenges of globalisation, the industry needs to catch up with digital by hiring more millennials and digital natives, the executives agreed.  

“Our business is data – we don’t manufacture physical things and ship them around the world – it’s all about data and information, and we’re not very good at handling it,” Beale said, admitting that there is “a bit of a talent crisis in the industry”.

The industry needs tech-savvy people who can handle data, but they aren’t necessarily being drawn to insurance, she said: “We’re not appealing to them in some way, and they don’t feel that they’re welcome or even perhaps needed.”

The more difficult question though, is how greater diversity can be achieved.

Both Beale and Duperreault suggest that the best way to begin is simply by starting the conversation.

“If you ignore it, it’s the elephant in the room anyway,” Duperreault said – but both admit there isn’t a single solution to the complex issue.

What’s clear is that the process needs to begin now in order to compete in the globalised and connected world. Duperreault warned: “If you don’t do something right now, you’ll be overtaken.”

The Dive-In festival is taking place in countries across the globe with events culminating today (September 29). You can find more information and how to attend events here.

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