A year ago, Hiscox had a single employee network. Fast forward 12 months and the business now has eight. Hasreen Chadha, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Hiscox, highlights the value employee networks bring to both employees and to the business, and how they're helping to promote and integrate a diverse workforce.
At Hiscox we're determined to create a culture where everyone's opinions and views are heard, where you can bring your 'whole self' to work and excel in an environment regardless of your background, perspectives and experience. And we believe that employee networks can play a really important part in helping us along that journey.
Two of a kind
So what are they? Employee networks are groups of employees who come together based on commonalities which could be anything from ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or interests. The idea is they get to share their perspectives and gain insights about each other and their workplaces. They are run by employees for employees.
Those who get involved with employee networks have access to more networking and developmental opportunities that they might not otherwise get, as well as gaining from other benefits such as mentorship and the chance to get involved in volunteering and community service initiatives. In turn, the business gains from a workforce more engaged, motivated and reflective of the customers and communities it is trying to serve.
Eight and counting
We currently have eight employee networks organised into distinct chapters to allow for networks operating in different countries. They include: women at Hiscox; LGBT+; parents and care givers; Latinos, mental health awareness and employee wellness; and a cross generational group. Each chapter has an executive sponsor, a lead (or co-lead) and a committee to drive meetings and events which are open to all regardless of whether an employee identifies with a particular group. We recently had an event put on by our Women at Hiscox group and there was a fairly even mix of men and women in the audience.
My role is to help support the groups and I meet with all the chapter leads on a regular basis. The feedback I've received has been hugely positive. Employees have been really energised by the opportunity to share their experiences, while others have really appreciated peer support in an area like mental health.
Those involved are really passionate about their groups and, more widely, there is now a better understanding of what employee networks can achieve in terms of greater inclusivity in the business. I'm looking forward to seeing our employee networks continue to thrive over the coming years as they reflect the growing diversity of our workforce.
Spotlight on: Women at Hiscox USA and Bermuda
Jennifer Bergstrom, Senior Claims Counsel and founder and Committee Leader of Women at Hiscox USA and Bermuda tells us a bit about the network:
“Our overarching goal is to support women in their professional and personal development by providing information, resources and networking opportunities. Through the group, we are seeking to attract and recruit talented women to open job postings, develop women to succeed in their careers, and retain women in their roles at Hiscox and encourage promotion from within. While the Women at Hiscox employee network’s focus is on issues pertinent to women and their personal and professional development, we encourage all employees – not just women – to participate in the group and to join the panel discussions and events, as we endeavour to host events that are interesting and relevant to all employees.
“This year, we have been quite busy! We hosted two panel events and are planning our third, which is scheduled for the end of October. Our first event took place on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2018) with a panel discussion on the gender pay gap and pay parity led by our guest speaker, Barb Yong of the law firm Golan Christie Taglia. Our second event was a panel discussion on unconscious bias led by Helen Krag, Head of Training for PDT Global. Our next event will be a workshop on navigating difficult conversations and setting appropriate boundaries led by Girls on the Run Chicago. This event is co-sponsored with the Parents & Caregivers employee network, with whom we are very excited to be partnering!
“To date, 80 people have joined the group and we are hoping more will join after our next event. Beginning next year, we will be sending monthly newsletters to our members. The feedback to date has been great. We feel we are making a difference by engaging employees on issues important to diversity and inclusion.”