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Markel insurance embraces building better cultures at Dive In Festival 2022

Markel has sponsored the global festival celebrating diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry since 2015.

For the fourth straight year, Markel contributed as a global festival partner for the Dive In Festival—the annual international event celebrating diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the insurance industry.

Promoting the theme “Building Braver Cultures,” this year’s Dive In Festival featured around 150 sessions across 40 countries on September 27-29, 2022. The event’s theme empowered attendees to promote inclusive workplaces where their colleagues feel safe, valued, and respected and can express themselves authentically.

“Beyond our daily focus on our own workforce and workplace, the Dive In Festival enables a powerful, global approach in the marketplace,” said Sue Davies, Markel’s Chief Human Resources Officer. “It empowers our employees to join with others around the world to advance our common goals—to build a braver culture for our industry as a whole.”

Markel’s continued involvement with Dive In

Markel’s influence on the Dive In Festival continued this year, extending its contributions from helping organize last year’s event. Employees like Trevor Gandy, Managing Director, Talent, Diversity and Inclusion, and Consuelo Adkins-Tyler, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, once again served on Dive In steering and planning committees. Their contributions helped shape and deliver global content to festival attendees.

“We wanted to make sure that we left a solid imprint for our organization on the festival,” said Trevor. “This year, we focused on finding opportunities to make a bigger impact, particularly from country to country. For instance, Consuelo and I served on committees that examined topics that would be of interest across various demographics in North America and South America.”

Beyond our daily focus on our own workforce and workplace, the Dive In Festival enables a powerful, global approach in the marketplace.

Such topics reflected Dive In’s ever-expanding focus on D&I matters. Session topics covered racial equality, mental health, caregiving, LGBTQ+, disability inclusion, among others. Markel also partnered with other insurance companies to co-sponsor events, such as “Psychological Safety in the Workplace” in Bermuda.

Joe Bizzarri, Senior Investigator, Special Investigations Unit, and Nick Line, Markel International’s (MINT) Chief Underwriting Officer, also returned this year to host sessions at Dive In. Joe led a session focused on building courageous cultures for LGBTQ+ colleagues, while Nick’s session touched on the importance of including experienced colleagues in challenging management and finding better ways to do things—prominently spreading the values of the Markel Style in the process.

“We reminded ourselves that there’s a greater need than ever for the insurance industry to keep innovating each and every day—and that diverse groups make the most powerful and creative teams,” Nick explained. “We also highlighted to the audience how engaged, innovative, and enthusiastic teams lead to satisfied customers and how this helps grow the business, leading to our desired win, win, win outcome.”

Complementing Markel’s festival support was active social media engagement through Dive In’s #ShareToGrow campaign. The campaign featured Markel North America and Markel International employees sharing what advice they would give their younger selves. Some employees challenged their younger selves to be courageous and speak up, while others recommended reading books that would elevate their personal growth.

“I participated in the Dive In campaign because I’m extremely passionate about D&I representation within the workplace—I believe it’s one of the key drivers of positive change,” stated Rebecca Devitt, Content Manager at Markel UK. “We’re so lucky at Markel that employees have access to such valuable resources and sessions for free through the Dive In Festival, so I wanted to make sure as many people as possible participated. It was a pleasure to be included and involved.”

Dive In watch parties and discussions

In addition to providing content for sessions, Markel spearheaded the creation of Dive In watch parties and group discussions.

Employees around the world gathered at their local office to attend live or on-demand Dive In sessions co-hosted by a Markel employee resource group (ERG). Some sessions concluded with a facilitated discussion that allowed attending employees to share their thoughts on the featured topic. Several other companies followed Markel’s watch party concept and organized similar gatherings in their offices.

“For this year’s Dive In, we tried to figure out how to engage even more employees, and the watch party idea started gaining more traction with our Global D&I Steerco members and ERG leaders,” Consuelo said.


We reminded ourselves that there’s a greater need than ever for the insurance industry to keep innovating each and every day—and that diverse groups make the most powerful and creative teams.

Dan Kennedy, Markel Specialty’s Mid South Regional President, attended watch parties in the Plano, Texas, office and walked away impressed by the session content and group discussions.

“It’s really encouraging to see how engaged our office is, and how committed we all are to a strong culture of diversity and inclusion in the true spirit of the Markel Style,” Dan said. “As we all know, D&I isn’t a simple goal or short-term initiative, but a continuous journey we all must remain committed to focusing on and making a priority.”

MINT’s Inclusion Network held watch parties in the London office for “Gender Parity in Leadership: What can we learn from emerging industries” and “LGBT+ Perspective: A Global View.” Following both events, Henry Gardener, MINT Director of Legal and Chief Risk Officer, International, and Chris O’Shea, MINT Claims Director, Wholesale, facilitated discussions with attendees. Kate Gardner, Senior Manager, Communication and Engagement, Wholesale and Co-Lead of MINT’s Inclusion Network, was excited to see employees meet to share their own views and personal experiences, generating lively conversation among the passionate group.

“These sessions gave us a lot to reflect on,” noted Kate. “We considered the many challenges we still face as an industry in attracting diverse talent, progressing women into leadership roles, making LGBTQ+ communities feel included in the workplace, and navigating cultural differences in a multinational workplace. The opportunity to create a safe space where people could speak openly about these topics, with support from senior leadership, was absolutely invaluable!”

Some Markel ERGs plan to organize additional watch parties through recorded Dive In sessions.

Building braver cultures at Markel and beyond

From providing insightful content to encouraging insurance professionals to engage and learn from one another, Markel is building better cultures through its annual support of the Dive In Festival. The event may last three days, but the lessons learned and connections made will continue to foster inclusive workplaces and stronger allyship within the insurance industry, especially at Markel.

“To build braver cultures, we must provide space for the conversations to happen and be more intentional in action,” Consuelo noted. “This is how trust is built and perspectives are changed. We grow together as we have more open dialogue.”

Visit the Dive In YouTube channel to watch recorded sessions from past events.