Ask anyone in the industry how they came to work in insurance and you are likely to get a response along the lines of “I haven’t a clue”. The insurance world has an historic image of the bowler-hat wearing, predominantly white and overwhelmingly masculine City worker, and although the reality has changed a little, there is still a long way to go to quell that image in order to attract new talent.
I started in the industry in December 2012 after completing my A-Levels. Coming from a borough in South London often described as ‘underprivileged’ I had no idea of the immense amount of opportunity the City would hold. In July this year, I was delighted to be invited to the Worshipful Company of Insurers’ annual summer networking event held in partnership with the Brokerage City Link. The evening was hosted by The Lord Mayor, who spoke to guests about the importance of diversity and innovation within the financial sector and how networking can further elevate your career. I stood alongside my CEO, Bronek Masojada and presented on the importance of seizing the opportunities that working in the City presents. Talking to current City workers that evening, it became clear that there is no single way into the insurance industry. Many of those I met held a variety of degrees, had experience in unrelated fields and yet have been able to accelerate their careers in the insurance industry. This makes for an interesting mix of people in the Square Mile, but sadly I still don't see much diversity when I walk to work.
I am proud to say that this year Hiscox has worked very closely with the Brokerage City Link, participating in their City of London Business Traineeship Programme. This summer, two promising young interns joined us at Hiscox for an eight week programme in London Market Operations and UK Marketing. The programme aimed to offer talented students from inner-London the chance to gain a paid summer internship within a City firm, encouraging diversity within the industry and giving an opportunity to those who have never been exposed to the professional working environment. During their time with us, Kevwe Uwotu and Mia Pereira contributed in a way that has made a real difference to the business but has also been of benefit to them. They have had the opportunity to experience things that they may not have been exposed to so early on, such as professional and personal development through courses and in-house training, and the chance to present to key management and executives. It was important for us to provide a programme that enabled Kevwe and Mia to build up their knowledge as well as the soft skills needed for employability. Both interns have been surprised at the varied career opportunities we have available in the insurance industry and excitedly now both want to pursue a career in our industry.
But Kevwe and Mia are just two examples of the bright and motivated students our industry could – and should – be attracting. As a business, we see a fantastic opportunity to tap into that raw talent.