20th November 2018
I am very proud to be leading one of the most diverse claims operations in the market. Our senior management team is currently an exact 50/50 split between men and women. This is closely mirrored within the wider division. We also have a very good mix of youth versus experience; 31% of our team are under 25 years of age; 40% sit within the 25 – 40 year age bracket; the remainder of us are in the over 40’s category. However, there is still more that we can do, to ensure that other minority groups are well represented.
Would it be boring if we were all the same? Or maybe we perceive it to be easier to deal with people who think and respond in similar ways to ourselves? That may be the case when things are going well, but what about that particularly tricky claim, circumstance or customer?
Someone in your team with a different mind-set may have the solution. They may not be a senior manager, the most experienced individual in a particular field or an obvious candidate for the role of ‘fixer’ or ‘innovator’. We may never know that they have the answer unless we create an inclusive environment, in which individuals feel comfortable to speak up and others pause to listen.
Calling out may seem straightforward to a confident leader, prepared to voice their views in open forum, but it is incumbent on managers to give thought and structure to the needs of individuals, who don’t yet feel quite so comfortable.
In a modern business environment, we can create a range of communication channels, to draw the best from our teams. This may include face to face meetings, telephone calls and video conferencing, drop in clinics, e- surveys, suggestion boxes, social media, workshops, informal discussions, the options are endless… But ultimately, it’s not that complicated, is it? Don’t we all just need to create a little time to listen carefully?
That may sound simple, but individuals from different generations adopt different language. It’s busy in Claims and we are constantly under pressure to comply with tight Service Level Agreements and deliver good customer outcomes. It is easy to get caught up in the frenetic pace of the day. The type and frequency of engagement that transforms a diverse group (who may be working in parallel or in silos) into a happy and successful team, requires time and effort on an ongoing basis.
It is important to value all contributions, regardless of whether they ultimately lead to the solution. Inclusivity requires respectful multi-way conversations. Everyone has something to offer and everyone has something to learn.
Responsibility doesn’t stop with management either. Creating a truly diverse workforce is about so much more than policies and quotas. It’s about you and me valuing what is different about our colleagues, encouraging everyone’s individuality, being proud of who we are and being considerate of others.
We must accept that different opinions can lead to uncomfortable conversations and sometimes conflict. Whilst we may strive to deal with such situations with equanimity, there is nothing wrong with edgy debate; as long as it remains professional and it is just the person’s views and ideas on particular topic that are being challenged; not the essence of who they are as an individual. After all, there would be no disruptive thinking if everyone just nodded and agreed.
It’s also important to have fun. Laughter can be a very inclusive activity. It can also be alienating. If someone just doesn’t get it – maybe they can shrug it off? If they feel hurt – it has to stop please.
All companies must have a zero tolerance policy on discrimination and remain alert to the risks that unconscious bias poses. Equally, we need to recognise that nobody says and does the right things all of the time. For that reason, having a growth mind-set may ultimately be the determining factor in the success of our diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives. They, in turn, will create progressive claims businesses, offering a rich, vibrant and rewarding environment, in which customer and employee needs can equally be met. The more diverse our workforce, the more thinking styles we have at our disposal, to meet the daily challenges of delivering a first class claims service to clients across a multitude of b2b and b2c relationships.
At the end of the day, despite our differences, the one levelling factor that we all have in common, is that we are all human (except for Daisy, Lily, Rose, Dahlia, Poppy, Tulip, Jasmine, Lotus, Primrose and Camellia. They’re actually robots!)
Kim Alcock, LLM ACII FCILA AInstLM
Managing Director, Davies Motor
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