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The I.D.E.A - Interview with Bryan Joseph

2 years ago by Rupa Pithya
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The I.D.E.A - Inclusive, Diversity, Equality, Actuary

The insurance industry was traditionally a male dominated market, however over time, the sector has been promoting change and is reinventing itself with a greater emphasis on Diversity, Equality & Inclusion.

Now more than ever, the Insurance and Actuarial profession receives requests for a “diverse” range of candidates. But what exactly does that mean? Is this to meet the growing number of companies wanting to reflect positive developments with a balanced workforce? Has diversity or equality ever existed in the Actuarial Insurance market? Or is this gradual change purely a company tick box exercise?

I have been in conversation with Senior Leaders to gain perspective and understanding on what the I.D.E.A means to them.
Here is a look back to a conversation we had in October 2021 with Bryan Joseph:

What is your current role?

I am Chairman of XL Insurance Company SE, the Euro/ Asian business of AXA XL, an INED of CUAL and XLCICL, the Lloyd’s Syndicate and UK Company of AXA XL, and on XLRe Europe SE. I have also set up my own Insurance Linked Securities business, Vario Partners, with a number of colleagues.

Please share what inclusion, equality and diversity means to you in the workforce?

Diversity, inclusion, and equality is at the core of my modus operandus. Having led a global actuarial business for many years, I have been exposed to a wide range of people, cultures and have appreciated the contributions of different individuals around the world.

I learnt not to pre-judge, but to listen to each person and help them develop their own arguments and contribution to the team. I have also noticed how businesses are finally recognising the benefits of a diverse workforce and I have been delighted to see the development

of policies, sponsored by Boards and Executive Management, that actively promote and encourage these developments. It is also pleasing to see that I am no longer always the sole person of colour in the room.

Did you/do you have a role model in the market, if so, how did it help you?

If not would it have been benefiting to you? How?

I did not have a role model in the market. I have benefited from many role models and mentors throughout my career, and they have helped by looking beyond my colour to my potential and ensuring that I was not held back but was given opportunity. Level the playing field and we can see how each individual/group performs.

What challenges (if any) did you face when moving up in your career?

I have faced many challenges and barriers to development, which I overcame with persistence and being prepared to go the extra distance to meet the requirements that I had been set. These have ranged from having my qualifications questioned to being ignored at meetings in favour of more junior but white colleagues. I was often the only individual of colour at senior level in organisations where I worked. That means that I was always on display and needed to be prepared to speak up and build alliances around me to secure the best outcomes for my clients. I have always been known for ignoring personal costs in the interest of my clients and organisation.

Do you think there is enough diversity in the insurance market, why?

The answer to this question is that it is better than it was but still has an extremely long way to go. The insurance market was described to me by a female CEO as being “pale, male and from Tunbridge Wells”. While that has loosened slightly, it is still dominated by those characteristics. It does mean that there is difficulty in attracting and retaining workers from other backgrounds. It also means that we can be subject to group think in many forms and this can lead to undesirable outcomes.

In your opinion how would you successfully promote The I.D.E.A.?

Showcasing successful individuals from diverse backgrounds and engaging with the people at the top of organisations to show them the benefits to their companies of having a proactive agenda. Without this engagement, it is very difficult to make meaningful change. Hard targets set internally also help.

What advice would you give to younger self?

The advice that I have passed on to my sons and to anyone that I mentor, “do something that you really enjoy, and you will become very good at it”. Our profession has many niches and businesses have many areas where we can find that spot to enjoy and thus excel. Once you have identified your niche, then give it your all and you will succeed.

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