Building a collaborative work environment where everyone is heard
At Markel, our employees are energized by the central role insurance can play as the backbone of the future economy, and by the variety of opportunities they encounter each day. Our book of business is very diverse, insuring everything from high-end bicycles to Fortune 100 D&O accounts. Markel’s focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) helps assure that our business takes advantage of a broader range of perspectives in order to help our increasingly diverse client base better manage their rapidly evolving risks.
“Diversity and inclusion have always been part of our values at Markel,” said Sue Davies, Markel’s Chief Human Resources Officer and Co-Executive Sponsor of the company’s Global D&I Steering Committee. “We’re committed to diversity and creating an open and collaborative culture where our employees can thrive, and our business succeed. Part of that commitment is providing an environment where teamwork is encouraged and where people from different backgrounds with different experiences can learn from each other, embrace diversity of perspective, and support Markel’s performance.”
It starts at the top
As Markel grows, our leadership team continues to increase its focus on D&I by turning dialogue into action.
One of the first actions was creating Markel’s Global D&I Steering Committee. Established in mid-2019, the committee features 18 Markel leaders who meet regularly to discuss D&I issues, share best practices, and develop and execute Markel’s D&I strategy.
“These leaders are passionate and active champions across Markel’s D&I efforts,” said Sue. “They work with their local teams and Markel’s executive leadership team to engage employees, communicate progress and support increasing the diversity of our teams and the ongoing development of our inclusive culture.”
“At Markel, we describe our diversity and inclusion vision as #winningtogether,” said Jo Browning, Senior Managing Director, People Experience, International. “We believe that by creating an inclusive workplace where each individual’s diverse skills, cultural perspectives, and backgrounds are valued, we are promoting personal and business success.
“We often hear the words ‘diverse’ and ‘inclusive’ being used interchangeably,” Jo noted. “But while each is essential to a high-performing workplace, these descriptors are complementary rather than synonymous. Diversity refers to the many ways in which we differ from one another. Inclusion refers to our ability to harness those differences—the richness of ideas, experience, capabilities, and perspectives that constitute diversity—and leverage them in ways that create business value. Unlike diversity, inclusion is more than a state of being. It’s a call to action, for all of us.”
As part of this call to action, Markel’s Global D&I Steering Committee has identified the following strategic priorities:
- An engaged and diverse talent workforce. We seek to build a global workforce equipped to serve the needs of our customers today and tomorrow.
- An inclusive workplace. In line with the Markel Style, we seek to enable our employees to achieve their full potential and contribute to one of the world’s great companies.
- Marketplace connectivity. We seek to position ourselves to effectively serve current and emerging markets.
Multiple initiatives related to these strategic priorities are under way. Markel has expanded its recruiting to include candidates from inside and outside the insurance industry, creating and extending partnerships with historically black colleges and universities (HCBUs), partnering with a social mobility organization, and introducing a D&I scholarship program. Additionally, Markel conducts a training program for hiring managers to help remove bias from the selection process and create inclusive interview experiences. These recruiting efforts have led to a more diverse slate of candidates, more new hires who identify as an ethnic minority, and a workforce that better reflects the markets in which we live and work.
Markel’s employee resource groups
Along with engaging leadership, our employees discuss D&I matters through Markel’s employee resource groups (ERGs). These include the Markel Women’s Network; The Jitneys (our young professionals group); Black Engagement at Markel (BEAM); Markel Asian Professionals (MAP); PRISM (LGBTQ+); the Markel Veterans Network; UN1DOS, which focuses on Latin and Hispanic culture; and the Inclusion Network in our international offices. Each of these groups offers a platform for employees to raise awareness on diversity and inclusion and embrace perspectives different from their own. The groups host networking events, promote participation in community outreach and talent acquisition activities, and provide education and mentorship opportunities.
One of Markel’s employee resource groups, PRISM, supports and advocates for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. The group brings awareness to LGBTQ+ policy issues, promotes Markel as a place where everyone is welcome, strengthens communities through volunteerism and their philanthropic support for LGBTQ+ non-profit organizations, and serves as a mentoring resource.
Mary Allen Waller, Markel’s Global Director, Community Engagement, who helped launch the PRISM ERG at Markel, shared, “We are grateful for the support and encouragement we continue to receive from Markel leadership and our colleagues for PRISM. Our LGBTQ+ employees, and employees who are families, friends, siblings, coworkers or other allies of LGBTQ+ people, now have a supportive community that encourages us to bring our whole selves to work.”
Another notable group, BEAM, which is focused on engaging Black employees at Markel, hosts events that support community engagement, D&I education, and mentorship programs for career development. BEAM has also worked with HBCUs to aid Markel’s diversity recruitment efforts and relationships with schools and students.
The Inclusion Network, with members from several international offices, is building meaningful partnerships with external networks such as iCAN, the Insurance Cultural Awareness Network. “The Inclusion Network is a forum for employees from around the world to have a voice and express what makes them, and their local markets, unique,” said Nick Line, Markel International’s D&I sponsor.
Striving for a better way
While we’ve made progress in achieving a diverse and inclusive culture at Markel, we’re far from done. We regularly evaluate our D&I initiatives to keep pace with an ever-changing working landscape. Our leaders continue to search for opportunities to embed D&I into everything we do. This proactive approach empowers our employees to embrace diversity and work together to create a stronger, inclusive culture at Markel.
To quote Jo Browning, “Our vision for diversity at Markel is a work environment that brings out the best in all of our people and enables them to contribute their diverse backgrounds and skills to build greater understanding of the markets and customers we serve around the world, while at all times exhibiting the Markel Style.”