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Reardon: diversity makes business sense

Time for change: Kathleen Reardon, Hamilton Re CEO and executive lead of Dive In Bermuda

Insurance company management has traditionally been dominated by white males — but introducing more diversity will help the industry’s bottom line.

That is the view of Kathleen Reardon, chief executive officer of Hamilton Re and a leading organiser of next week’s Dive In Festival, a global initiative — include three days of events in Bermuda — aimed at addressing the industry’s diversity issue.

“This is a global problem in the insurance industry, so it’s nice to see that some of Bermuda’s most prominent industry leaders, like Brian Duperreault and Mike McGavick, are supporting it,” Ms Reardon, executive lead for Bermuda Dive In, told The Royal Gazette.

“The insurance industry is dominated by white male management and that is hard to change. There are entrenched cultures and stale processes and procedures enforced by unconscious bias.

“But there’s definitively now a collective agreement in the industry to focus on these issues and make change. It makes good business sense.”

She added that there was much research to back the idea that diversity and inclusiveness enhances profitability.

For example Cedric Herring, sociology professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, researched this link extensively.

He concluded: “For every percentage increase in the rate of racial or gender diversity up to the rate represented in the relevant population, there was an increase in sales revenues of approximately 9 and 3 per cent, respectively.”

Also, the Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY analysed almost 22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries and found that an organisation with 30 per cent female leaders could add up to six percentage points to its net margin.

A diverse workforce would identify different perspectives, make more rounded decisions and be better suited to meet the needs of its diverse clientele, Ms Reardon said.

“The world is very diverse and our employee base should reflect that diversity,” she added. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

From a global perspective, the industry is facing a potential talent crisis as baby boomers retire, leaving vacancies that the millennial generation seems less than enthusiastic about filling.

“This industry has a reputation problem, especially with millennials, who tend to see insurance boring and purposeless,” Ms Reardon said.

She argued that insurance had a powerful purpose — to protect individuals, businesses, governments and countries in their lives and endeavours as they strove for success.

Mr Duperreault, the chairman of Hamilton Insurance Group, has argued that insurance should be “catnip to millennials” craving purposeful work.

The industry has worked to try to change millennials’ perception, not least through its international industry careers month in February this year, which included millennials employed in insurance talking about their experiences with college students. Apart from Mr Duperreault and Mike McGavick, chief executive officer of XL Catlin, the Dive In Festival is also backed by Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd’s. It’s also been endorsed by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, George Fergusson, the former Governor, Mary Ellen Noonan Koenig, the US Consul General, and Ross Webber, CEO of the Bermuda Business Development Agency.

After an opening cocktail event, six workshops and discussions will be hosted by Aon, EY, Hamilton Re, Marsh and XL Catlin between September 27 and 29.

The sessions will include: “Un-biasing our unconscious bias”, a facilitated discovery session with Tiffany Paynter, Art of Hosting facilitator; “What executives need to know about women and gender strategies”, led by gender and generations strategist Christie Hunter-Arscott; and “Hidden disabilities: neuro-diversity and working with ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s”, presented by Tracy Powell-Rudy from Asperger Syndrome Training & Employment.

Registration is open and all events are open to everyone who works in the insurance industry, including companies providing services to the industry, and are free of charge with prior registration. A mobile app has been designed for iPhone and Android devices, which contains relevant content as well as making it easy to register for events.

For more information contact the Dive In Bermuda committee at diveinfestival@xlcatlin.com. To download the app visit: www.diveinfestival.com #diveinfest