Black History Month provided an opportunity to refocus our attention on what more can be done to increase ethnic diversity at all levels within the finance sector.

Following on from the success of our diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) campaign in 2021, we encouraged Members to show their support for Black History Month again this year.

Gwen Graham – Chair of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) committee – said Black History Month, as always, was a highlight of the DE&I activity calendar and an opportunity to focus attention on the continuing need to drive positive change in the life assurance sector and associated industries.

M&G Plc, Canada Life and AXA Life Europe (all AILO Member businesses) organised events to celebrate Black History Month this year. M&G’s Employee Resource Group ‘Embrace’ led the celebrations which began with a message from the company’s CEO on why Black History Month is so important. Activities also included a different lunch each week of black origin, and the month concluded with a networking reception. In 2019 M&G publicly committed to a 20% ethnicity target for senior leaders and are making steady progress towards that goal. Celebrating Black History Month is one of the many ways the business is continuing to promote awareness and understanding.

Canada Life had a strong programme of activity for the month, including continuing its long-running relationship with the Show Racism The Red Card charity. Because October also featured World Mental Health Day and World Menopause Day, Canada Life brought an ethnic lens into conversations around those issues. The work was actioned by the company’s employee resource group ‘The Ethnicity Network’ (aka TEN) and began with a ‘TEN Open Talk’ hosted by Richard Priestley, MD and Executive Director of Canada Life’s insurance business. That was followed later in the month by staff across the UK and Isle of Man enjoying African-themed food. Working with Show Racism The Red Card, the keynote event was a virtual ‘Town Hall’ featuring former international footballer Shaka Hislop, now Honorary President of the anti-racism educational charity. The former Newcastle United and Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper was the guest speaker at the event which was hosted by Nick Harding, Canada Life’s Chief People Officer.

AXA Life Europe took the opportunity to promote their Unconscious Bias learning programme which is a key element in its DE&I strategy.

Vicki Hotchkiss – who with Gwen Graham was a Co-Chair of AILO’s DE&I Committee – has recently stepped down from that role. We thank Vicki for her contribution to AILO which for many years included her role as Chair of the committee. During that time she played a leading role in our DE&I initiatives to position us at the forefront of positive change in the international finance sector.