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Turning D&I Talk into Action

by Aaida Abu Jaber, Head of PR and Marketing at IGI

Aaida Abu Jaber

Today’s workplace is very different than it was years ago. The next generation of leaders are currently working their way up the career ladder – and they have different values and expectations about work. Survey after survey has shown millennials don’t want to work for organizations that just pay lip service to diversity and inclusion (D&I), and so creating a company that provides a supporting environment that embraces D&I is vital.

We all know that most insurance companies are behind the curve when it comes to D&I. All you have to do is look at the boards of some of the largest companies in the world to find that they are largely made up of white older men.

But the next generation of leaders that are coming up through our companies will expect to be part of a diverse and inclusive workplace. We believe they will radically change the insurance landscape, promote a better and fairer place to work and create more ethical companies.

We need to make sure we are attracting the brightest and the best millennials (and post-millennials) to our companies. The future CEOs are already working for us – and we need to keep them.

There are many organisations that support D&I. Most of you will have heard of the Dive In Festival – a Lloyd’s of London global D&I festival for the insurance world – which will soon be five years old. This festival has been supported by most insurance companies. And there are many, many more initiatives springing up all the time. Although this is good news, we really need to make sure that effort is not duplicated, and resources are not wasted. Cooperation and collaboration between all these well-meaning initiatives is imperative.

But to achieve real results, companies must turn good intentions into concrete action. At IGI, we don’t want to wait until millennials are in a position of greater power to see changes in workplace diversity – we want to turn a commitment to gender diversity into meaningful progress now.

In September, we hosted the Dive-In festival in Jordan for the first time. The theme was built around empowering women at all levels in the workplace and providing them with the right skills to become leaders. It was significant to hold an event in Jordan - it is a small country rich in talent, history and culture. In the past 70 years, we have witnessed many conflicts in the region that led to the influx of millions of refugees. Jordan welcomed them and now boasts a diverse population of people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Like Jordan, IGI is diverse, relying on local talent in its operations and boasts a 50/50 male/female ratio in the workplace.

IGI has also partnered with the Jordanian-founded social enterprise “The World of Letters”, which spearheaded a collective women’s movement called Women as Partners in Progress (WPP), led by the voices of Arab women leaders to address gender imbalance in the workplace. We want to increase female participation in the sector and welcome young graduates to our companies.

Meanwhile, IGI will also be looking to establish its own D&I unit and develop an action plan that starts with the company and then expands to insurance companies in the region and beyond.

Nobody expects gender equality in the workplace to be achieved overnight. Unless the industry harnesses the power behind recent D&I initiatives, however, all of that well-intentioned energy will fizzle out and we will be left, once again with inertia.

At IGI, we want to turn talk into action today.

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