Future success through diversity
It’s just a short train ride from the inner London suburbs into the heart of the City, but it could be a million miles away for many school leavers, who never consider a career in the Square Mile. But Madison Robinson, Underwriting Assistant in the Alternative Distribution team at Hiscox London Market, is keen to spread the message to ambitious young people from London boroughs that insurance has a lot to offer them.
Robinson, who is from Lewisham, joined Hiscox in 2012 after finishing her A-levels by signing up with The Brokerage CityLink, a charity-funded organisation for inner-city school leavers interested in getting jobs in the City.
Hiscox feels like the perfect environment for her. “The message here is that it’s up to you to make your own future. For me, that’s very exciting, because I feel I have the drive to make something of myself.”
Spreading the talent net wider
Insurance needs to become more diverse to face the challenges ahead, Robinson thinks. “The insurance business will experience massive change over the next 10 years. But if you have a room full of people who look the same, sound the same, and have come from the same backgrounds then they’re all going to give the same answers. That won’t make you as competitive as other firms that think and behave differently.”
But she believes that the image many outsiders have of insurance is a little unfair. “If you look around the London Market it isn’t very diverse. But that isn’t necessarily because companies aren’t prepared to hire people from other backgrounds. A lot of the problem is that people from those backgrounds don’t know the opportunities that are there for them in insurance, so they don’t bother to apply. We need to break down the stigma that’s attached to insurance, by getting out and telling them about what a career in insurance can offer them.”
Insurance needs to become more diverse to face the challenges ahead.
The CII has already made a start, Robinson says, by going to inner London schools to explain the business to students and to help them understand the wide array of business – and jobs – that are done in the London Market.
What would help companies to attract the best talent from all backgrounds is for them to offer career schemes for school leavers as well as for graduates, Robinson believes. “Many young people who don’t come from privileged backgrounds can’t face going to university if it means coming out with a £50,000 debt.”
Last summer, Hiscox worked with The Brokerage CityLink to participate for the first time in The City Of London Business Traineeship Programme. It offered two young students from inner London, Kevwe Uwotu (pictured) and Mia Pereira, the chance to work in the business for eight weeks.
School leavers have had virtually no experience of business before they start looking for jobs. The scheme helps teach them all the little things about entering the workplace that schools don’t
The scheme helps inner-city school leavers gain experience of working in a big City firm, as well as to learn extra social and professional skills to help them get a job at the end.
Robinson’s passionate commitment to the scheme resulted in her being given a Project Champion award. “I’d never had the opportunity to manage people or to lead a project before, so the scheme was an amazing experience for me too. I hope they got as much out of it as I did.”
Hiscox is planning to expand the scheme in 2015. “We’re hoping to have six interns from a variety of backgrounds. I want to make sure that we have someone else from Lewisham, like me. We’ve already had lots of support from the people working within Hiscox London Market, who all want to be involved again next year.”
Two names are already penciled in: Kevwe and Mia. “I’ve spoken to them since they went to university, and they both told me they’ve already applied for next year’s internship. For me, that’s a sign of the programme’s success.”
Underwriting Assistant - Alternative Distribution
+44 (0) 207 448 6725
Written by Simon Challis