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Beazley moves the dial on ethnicity in its workforce

Beazley has taken a targeted approach to diversity and inclusion issues, with the latest project involving tackling the under-representation of people of colour within the organisation (and the industry as a whole).

A single-minded focus on gender in 2019-20 had seen good results, particularly through the setting and publication of gender targets for the Beazley workforce. In summer 2020, when race became a global focus for change, Beazley staff at all levels gave overwhelming support to the idea of moving the focus of their diversity project to this theme.

The first challenge was for Beazley to understand the diversity within its own workforce, overlaying employee data with census data for particular locations, to enable it to better understand each local community. Data was felt to be key, both in helping to set targets, and in measuring progress against them.

After six months of consultation and planning, the targets were set at the end of 2020 and communicated in early 2021. Beazley now hopes to see its employee population made up of at least 25% of people of colour, and for 25% of that group to be black – a specific target that recognises the serious under-representation of black people in insurance.

Beazley decided to set its targets on a department basis, knowing that some teams will find hitting the targets easier than others.  One important strand is ensuring that support teams do not carry the diversity challenge on behalf of other teams. To help with both these problems, Beazley is working to create bespoke solutions for each department.  Some teams concentrate on junior hiring, some focus on nurturing internal talent, while others focus on inclusive leadership.

While employee feedback is positive, there has been some fear about tokenism, and concerns that the programme might rely solely on entry-level hiring.  Beazley’s team spent the first few months getting people to understand the company’s good intentions and the fact that there is no hidden agenda.

The campaign is just six months old, but numbers are already moving in the right direction, with Beazley’s current employee base made up of 19% people of colour, and 22% within this cohort being black people .*  The next stage is to accelerate the pace of change, and Beazley is working on increasing commitment from all levels of management, with particular focus on enabling and identifying the key people who can drive the difference at mid-manager level.

“We have had great feedback and many people have asked how we set the programme up. For other firms thinking of setting up this sort of programme, my message is ‘be bold’. Get started, knowing you are not going to get everyone on board, but be brave enough to get started. Begin small if necessary, maybe even with a single team, but start somewhere as this will get you moving in the right direction.”
Chelsey Sprong, Inclusion Partner at Beazley

* Data correct in July 2021.