Tali Shlomo, Global People Engagement Director at the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), discusses the link between diversity and inclusion (D&I) and employee engagement, plus the challenges we are facing in terms of attracting and retaining talent within the industry.
Unlock your talent
Q. Have you always been passionate about people?
A. When I finished University, HR was something that I stumbled into, but now, 25 years later, it has become my life. HR and D&I are one in the same because it is all about treating someone as an individual rather than as a collective to support individuals bring their whole self to work and to unlock their discretionary effort and potential. It is something that I describe as unlocking their talent. I have always been passionate about people and my job as Global People Engagement Director is about engaging and connecting with our people, whether that be our colleagues within the business, our stakeholders or partners, in order to drive their personal development and our business.
Q. How does D&I drive employee engagement?
A. It is one of the most fascinating things because by having greater awareness and insight, it can only enable you to have greater engagement and therefore a more fruitful workforce.
Looking at the McKinsey & Company report, we know that there is a strong correlation between companies who are in the top quarter for racial and ethnic diversity as they are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respected national mediums, which is partly down to employee engagement. The report from Deloitte recognises that by having a diverse group of colleagues there is increased collaboration, innovation and partnering. We all know from our own personal experiences that when we are treated as an individual, have support within a safe environment, and are empowered to provide our own insights and contributions, while being our authentic self, we are more engaged, and that is where we start to unlock the discretionary effort from an individual, and become more fruitful in our organisation.
This is why I am passionate about people and D&I because everyone is involved in an organisation’s strategy when it comes down to how we might approach and support each other. I am always looking at new ways of evolving employee engagement because the minute you are engaged you start to make a really powerful step change.
Q. What challenges are we facing within the insurance industry in terms of talent?
A. Are we facing talent shortages? Yes. Is this an opportunity to widen our talent pool? Yes. How do we engage with students and school leavers? Career fairs. We recently had a stand at the Student Pride Career Fair at the University of Westminster. This was a great opportunity because we were able to engage with students of a variety of ages who were looking to kick start their career journey, plus it was great fun for us too. We, as the CII and the Personal Finance Society, also run a volunteer scheme where we go into a school and work with them to deliver a game called Discover Risk and Discover Fortunes we have over 900 volunteers from our profession supporting the programme, which is all about engaging with school leavers and giving them a greater insight into our profession.
Mentoring and coaching are other powerful tools. I have a mentor but I also have a mentee, and I think this is a great way to give something back to our profession in order to enable succession planning. Particularly with artificial intelligence, roles are changing, therefore from a D&I perspective, let’s look at the wider talent pool and equip our colleagues for future roles. D&I is intrinsic in our talent and succession programs because if we have a diverse community of colleagues reflecting society and our consumers then we are much more collaborative, inclusive and innovative in our products and solutions.
Q. How does talent link to D&I?
A. We know that the employee value proposition for millennials in the PwC report was that 86% of millennial women and 74% millennial men say that they consider D&I policies when deciding which company to work for. How powerful is that! That shows that there is a clear correlation. We also know from Stonewall that concealing your sexual orientation reduces productivity by up to 30%. Why is that important you may ask? The reason that I mentioned both facts is that when you are looking to attract talent, the organisational brand is critical to the employee value proposition, when you are looking to retain your talent, D&I is just as critical. It is important to have strategies that recognises how talent enables D&I and how D&I enables talent because the two should complement each other.
Q. The CII are hosting an event, The Power of Inclusion, as part of Dive In this year – what are you most looking forward to about this session and what will be the key elements discussed?
A. I am super excited! We ran these sessions last year and we had nearly 100 people attend which is a real achievement. This year in Cardiff we have a Paralympian lady who will be sharing her journey of sport and her disability – this session is to encourage organisations to create strategies that will give individuals a platform to grow, evolve and develop. In Edinburgh, we will be talking about social mobility and how to create an inclusive work place culture. In Ipswich, we have Kelly Smith MBE, a footballer, who will be talking about how we can break down gender stereotypes. It will be an incredibly powerful session using sport as a safe platform to discuss the issues surrounding gender. We also have an event happening in Hong Kong – we have an amazing panel of speakers from our profession where we will be discussing age bias and age diversity, and we also have a CPD coaching conversation session in English and Cantonese. In addition we are hosting the first Dive In in Bangladesh and Dubai.
It is all about impact. I always say that conversations are really important because the more you talk, the more you start to break down the stigma. Since the first Dive In Festival in 2015, it has really accelerated the progress of D&I in the industry and the fact that we have got so many new countries on board this year speaks volumes.
Q. What positive work has the CII rolled out to support D&I, and what else is on the agenda for this year?
A. In terms of the CII, we have amazing initiatives regarding D&I. We have an LGBT+ advocate group who are delivering some education and learning workshops. We also have mental health champion advocates who are doing some exciting activities to support our employee’s wellbeing journey. We do host film nights where we show a movie which has a D&I element present and then after the movie we have a conversation around the film discussing reflective questions enabling us to start a dialogue in a safe space.
We also deliver unconscious bias training, inclusive leadership training, and we also give out doodle books, allowing people to wind down and refresh for five minutes.
It is all about engaging with our employees using a variety of channels and approaches and providing opportunities and safe spaces for them to have open conversations.
Q. How can the profession continue to collaborate and unite in order move inclusion conversations into actions that make a positive impact?
A. We should be proud of the amount of activities and conversations currently happening in our industry and making an impact. We should be celebrating the amount of cross-networks we have available – LINK, GIN, iCAN, IFN – because they are enabling the organisation to come together and recognise the power of collaboration. There is definitely is an appetite for D&I and the leadership teams and executive boards are now much more passionate in driving this inclusive culture forward – in the next 12 months we will continue to see some significant step change and I can’t wait!