Godwin Sosi is a management liability underwriter at Sompo international and one of the co-founders of ACIN. The ACIN was formed to boost black and minority ethnic representation within the insurance industry by way of increasing cultural competence in the London market and making the Insurance sector a more attractive destination for young ethnic professionals.
Here he talks to BIE Director HR, Catherine Osaigbovo, about the thinking behind the ACIN and the next steps senior leaders can take to improve ethnic diversity within their organisations.
The idea for the ACIN was birthed out of the frustration my co-founder Junior Garba ACII and I experienced as Lloyd’s underwriting professionals. We were disappointed with the levels of under-representation of Black professionals within insurance and industry more generally. As a result, we decided to put our heads together to look at how we could bring about change and level the playing field. The London market has been slow to give ethnic diversity the attention it needs. For example, ethnicity is rarely included in formal Diversity and Inclusion strategies within business. As a network, we have made it the ACIN’s mission to amplify the voice of Black and minority ethnic professionals.
I believe that change starts with a conversation. You need to make people feel included. Often there is fear around what to say and/or how to broach a subject. Tensions can arise because people simply lack knowledge and sometimes misconstrue things in the wrong manner. At the ACIN we have a focus on educating people and creating safe spaces for people to ask questions without being labelled. Some people want to learn, but do not know how to ask. We want to change that dynamic and make everyone feel welcome.
By being the change we want to see. Part of the reason the #BlackLivesMatter movement has had such an impact is that we have our allies sharing our pain and frustration. Many are now showing their solidarity. This isn’t an us issue; it is a we issue. We (all ethnicities) need to come together to solve the underlying issues and create an environment which is inclusive for all.
Most definitely. Years ago, people could not even talk about the underlying issues/tensions they were experiencing within the working environment not to mention their experienced microaggressions. People were even scared to mention the word “Black”; however, I think now more so than ever, people are interested in what they can do to bring about change. We all know that there have been issues, but we are now collectively looking for the solutions. Of course, as I mentioned, it is important to have the initial conversation, but it is also about acting on these conversations and putting in place tangible action plans.
We have all heard the saying, “What gets measured gets done”. By regularly measuring and reporting progress, this enables us to gauge how far we have come and where we need to be. The Insurance Census 2019 stated that 7% of the UK’s insurance workforce come from a Black and Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. Of that 7% only 1% come from a Black background. We know that this statistic is heavily disproportionate with the ethnic minority presence in the UK. It is important that we focus on how we attract, retain, and develop ethic minority talent, and measure and report on the success of the action. Only then can we be sure that the strategies and actions we are putting in place are moving the dial.
Senior leaders can educate themselves on issues around race. They should seek to have positive conversations with other senior leaders, as well as their ethnic minority colleagues on what is being done well within the organisation and what more they can do to help steer the changes required. Secondly, we would recommend reaching out and sponsoring an ethnic minority individual. Sponsoring of time allows the individual to receive advice and guidance that may not have been accessible to them before. It also acts as a reverse mentoring mechanism for both the senior leader and individual. For more information on allyship, you can view a recent BIE Webinar on Allyship: Unlocking the Power of Diversity here.
If you would like to connect with the ACIN and find out more, please join us on LinkedIn.