The Key Learning Points:
1.Misconceptions about careers in insurance, and why it is actually a fantastic industry to be part of
2.Lessons from AXA’s ‘Fairer in Five’ campaign for diversity reporting
3.How the culture of concealment in the financial services industry may be impacting negatively on the diversity of the workforce
Today on the Risky Mix Podcast, we’re delighted to be joined by Tracy Garrad, CEO at AXA Health and executive sponsor for D&I at AXA UK. We’ll hear Tracy’s personal career journey, including where her passion for changing perceptions of the insurance industry came from. We will also discuss Tracy’s experience leading AXA’s D&I disclosure campaign and explore what insurance companies can do to improve their D&I reporting.
Tracy starts by telling us about her career journey and her untypical path, which led her to becoming the CEO at three different organisations. Tracy grew up on a council estate in Blackpool, which now has one of the highest poverty rates in the UK.
After leaving school at 17 to look after younger siblings when her mother passed away, Tracy ended up working for someone who changed her life. They supported her practically and emotionally and helped her go back to school to study Business and Finance, alongside holding down her job.
In addition to Tracy’s role as CEO of AXA Health, she is the executive sponsor for diversity and inclusion for AXA UK. She tells us all about the ‘Fair in Five’ campaign launched last March. The campaign encourages employees to share their diversity and inclusion data characteristics. Tracy says that many businesses, not just insurers, have little data on the makeup of their workforce.
Tracy tells us that by having this data and having a baseline, AXA will be able to develop targeted interventions that will help make the workplace fairer and more inclusive.
Tracy is also passionate about changing perceptions of the insurance industry. She says that many have a perception that insurance is dull and really technical, but Tracy explains that insurance is actually really personable.
She wants to inspire and encourage more people to choose insurance as a career path and put the message out there; that you can make a difference to people’s lives by working in the insurance sector, plus have a brilliant career.
One of the ways Tracy believes we can encourage more people to choose insurance as a career is by getting rid of the existing culture of concealment that surrounds people’s backgrounds, which research has shown is very typical in the financial services sector.
“The data would suggest that there are more people, within the higher ranks of the financial services firms, that do have people who have come from a lower socioeconomic background but actually just aren’t comfortable talking about it publicly.”
Tracy adds that this culture of concealment creates this belief that you have to follow a certain path to success. She says that the more role models that we have, that are willing to be open and share the adversity they may have experienced, the more that myths will be dispelled and a wider range of people will believe that that could be them.
Tracy also shares her tips for young people and how best to progress in their career.
Her main big tip: have a plan.