LGBT+ Pride in the London Market

Author: Erik Johnson, Deputy Active Underwriter, Victor Syndicate 2288 & Inclusion@Lloyd’s Board Member

With Link’s much anticipated PRIDE party coming up on the 8th of September at the NED in the City of London, it is an opportune time to reflect on how LGBT+ inclusion has changed in the London insurance market.

Like many of you, my LinkedIn feed was a stream of rainbow logos of insurers and brokers big and small from the start of June. With June being LGBT+ Pride Month in the UK, this is not surprising. However, is the industry engaging in ‘pride-washing’ or is it one that genuinely welcomes LGBT+ colleagues and customers?

When I re-joined the London Market just over 10 years ago, I was surprised by the lack of LGBT+ employee networks. At the time, I believe that only Aon and Aviva had internal staff LGBT+ networks. There were few high profile LGBT+ industry figures and I had even been warned off helping to launch Link, the LGBTQ+ Insurance Network, due to how senior leaders might respond.

Well how things have changed! Today there are over 30 internal staff LGBT+ Networks amongst London Market firms. Lloyd’s saw its first bisexual CEO, Dame Inga Beale and there are leading LGBT+ identifying executives within London market.

While society has changed in this time as has the business attitude towards LGBT+ inclusion, I trace much of the culture change to the work done by Link. Link was created in the summer of 2012 and had its formal launch at the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Insurance Hall in March 2013. Link’s mission is to make the insurance industry the employer of choice for the LGBT+Q+ community.

Link is one of six Inclusion@Lloyd’s Partner Networks and is run by a committed and passionate group of industry volunteers. They organise cross-industry events, assist companies in establishing LGBT+ employee networks, deliver internal events for industry firms, and work to promote insurance as a career for LGBT+ people. In 2019 they were recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the OBE for voluntary groups.

Working with Link and their employers, executives such as Nick Major (MD Commercial Lines) and Angela Darlington (CEO UK Life) from Aviva and Geoff Godwin (COO UK) of AIG are role models to existing and prospective LGBT+ insurance professionals. Supported by allies such as Paul Jardine (Chairman) of Asta and Chaucer, Dominic Christian (Global Chairman Reinsurance) of Aon, and Sian Fisher (CEO) of the CII, LGBT+ inclusion in the London Market is certainly greater than it was 10 years ago.

If you want to learn more about LGBT+ inclusion, there are few things that I challenge you to do:

  • Attend one of your firm’s LGBT+ network group events, if you don’t have one, ask your leadership why not?
  • Sign up to Link’s mailing list to learn more about LGBT inclusion in the insurance industry.
  • Attend one of Link’s events and bring along some colleagues. Even better, why not invite Link to host an event jointly with your firm?
  • Sign-up for one of the LGBT+ focused Dive In Festival events this September 21 to 23 (stay-tuned for when registrations open up!).
  • Add a statement to your email signature stating that you are an inclusion and diversity ally.
  • Ask your firm to partner with and sponsor Link on an annual basis.
  • Take one of your LGBT+ colleagues to lunch or coffee, ask questions, listen, learn, and share.

I am fortunate to work in a very LGBT+ inclusive environment. Victor is hosting a Pride event for colleagues focused on being an LGBT+ ‘ally’. We have partnered with Link for expert content and to moderate a panel of Victor colleagues from across our businesses, along with representatives from our capacity / capital providers. We changed our Victor logo to incorporate the rainbow flag for June. Based on our culture of inclusion and the strong support of our leadership, this is warranted.

London Market firms outwardly signalling their support for LGBT+ colleagues and the community is a big deal. While for some firms it may be ‘pride-washing’, but for most I doubt it is. The change in logos might lead to:

  • An LGBT+ colleague who is closeted to feel comfortable ‘coming out’ the their team;
  • A colleague with a gay child speaking about them in the office;
  • A broker or underwriter talking about their same-sex partner;
  • A heterosexual colleague challenging the ‘symbolic’ change resulting in a conversation around LGBT+ inclusion; or
  • An LGBT+ client deciding to place business with a firm.
  • Attraction of external talent at differing levels.

So if you look at all the rainbow logos in June and think, well things aren’t great for LGBT+ insurance professionals, ask yourself – would you rather the London Market not have the courage to change their logos to incorporate the rainbow flag for a month?