The Hiscox Pan-African employee network plays a really important role in supporting employees of African-descent. Its aim is to enhance professional development and progression within the business, through introductions to insurance-related professional organisations and mentoring/coaching programmes.
At the same time it promotes initiatives to increase the cultural awareness of all employees by observing days of specific importance to people of African-descent such as Black History Month and Juneteenth.
Here we explore their year so far as well as what they’ve got planned further ahead.
Since the Pan-African network formed in our US business less than two years ago it’s had a growing influence across the Group. But more recently its significance has risen - most notably since the tragic death of George Floyd and others in the US which sparked a global campaign aimed at addressing issues of social and racial equality and justice affecting the Black community.
The network’s committee, which is run by members of our workforce including Executive Sponsor Alexis Palmer - Hiscox USA’s Head of HR for Operations and Claims, and co-leads Ashley Husbands, US Underwriting Counsel and Anthony Copeland, US Claims Examiner, has worked closely with our leadership teams on ways that Hiscox can help to address these topics, and you can read more about some of the steps being taken here.
The team has also worked tirelessly to create a range of educational materials - from webinars to events - which have been shared across the organisation, and there is work underway to intensify efforts on increasing BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) representation across the Group.
The network has struck up a close partnership with Dr. Leroy Nunery, author of ‘The Journey of African-American Insurance Professionals’. They work together on member initiatives and earlier this year Hiscox USA enlisted his help to launch its first ever diversity and inclusion survey.
“As an expert regarding diversity and inclusion across various insurance carriers in the United States, Dr Nunery’s advice and expertise was vital to help us understand diversity and inclusion at Hiscox USA,” explains Ashley, adding that Dr. Nunery is also helping them implement an action plan based on the survey findings.
The annual Juneteenth celebrations - marking the end of slavery in the United States - is a significant event for the Pan-African employee network, and this year they celebrated the occasion by hosting an educational forum titled “Where Do We Go From Here?” with speakers including Dr. Nunery and psychologist Dr. Isaiah Pickens.
More than 200 attendees joined the discussion about the history of Juneteenth, cultural awareness and generational trauma within black communities.
Anthony explains: “The symbolic importance of this occasion rests upon the premises of knowing ‘who you are, where you are’ by understanding the road traveled, and reflecting on the past and present struggles of black people to not only achieve freedom, which is an unalienable right, but to have rightful access to equality and equity in America.”
The global pandemic
The lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 crisis didn’t stop the Pan-African employee network from continuing to support its communities. With help from the Hiscox Foundation, a registered charity in the UK and USA, the network made a $5,000 donation to Love Beyond Walls, an Atlanta-based charity that is helping to provide portable hand washing stations to areas with a high population of homeless people across the US.
The journey continues
The Pan-African employee network has many exciting events planned for the year ahead, including collaborating with other Hiscox employee networks, and plans to observe Black History Month in the UK and Ireland in October.
“We will also continue supporting initiatives and commitments put forward by the business regarding social and racial equality for employees,” says Breanka Thomas, US Claims Examiner and Pan-African employee network Community Outreach Chair.