As part of our plans to drive forward a more inclusive vision of doing business in London, we’ve launched a series of short interviews to find out what some of our members are doing to improve inclusion and diversity (I&D) within their own organisations. Today we hear from British businesswoman and inspirational speaker Dame Inga Beale. As the former CEO of Lloyd’s of London, Inga played a significant role in embedding modernisation and cultural change during her time there.
Q: Why is having an inclusive and diverse working environment so important?
Diverse teams bring more innovation and creativity. When people feel that they belong and are engaged, productivity rises — a win-win for everyone.
Q: What has your career journey highlighted for you in terms of the value of embracing diversity?
It felt like I was a lone woman when I started working in financial services in the 1980s. Seeing no senior female role models, I became disillusioned and very nearly left the sector forever. Then, I travelled around the world and was inspired by a senior professional woman I worked for briefly in Sydney, Australia. That changed my life.
Q: What was the spur for your business in becoming more proactive on I&D?
When starting as the CEO of Lloyd’s of London in 2014, I realised that the lack of diverse voices had meant very little change had occurred in the way people worked. Business was being transacted in a similar way to when it was founded in the 17th century. To modernise and enable a new digitalised workplace, I knew we needed to hire different people in order to be successful.
Q: When it comes to improving diversity at a senior level, what does your company do to support people from under-represented groups in their journey to the top?
Be proactive. This will not happen naturally because of the various fixed and established practices and “norms” that have built up over centuries. There must be a targeted effort to understand what’s happening, followed by a focused plan to recruit, retain and develop those from under-represented groups.
Q: What are the most innovative steps your company has taken on I&D?
You need to focus on this topic like any other business priority, which means setting targets and holding senior executives to account for not delivering, just like you would with any other business goal. This also includes impacting variable pay if you have this as part of your reward system.
Q: Are there any other companies that you feel are at the forefront of this journey?
It’s important to look at the group of executives at the top of any company. That’s the proof of how well they are doing.
Q: What is a key piece of advice for companies just starting their inclusion and diversity journeys?
There are no more excuses — just do it!
London First is on a mission to keep London at the forefront of global business, working with and for the whole UK. If you’re interested in becoming a member or want to find out more about our sponsorship activities, get in touch with us today.