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Markel International’s Community Network

One of many employee-led networks bringing the Markel Style to life.

Under the framework of “The Style in Action,” Markel’s international operations has launched several employee-led networks that bring the Markel Style to life through meaningful action. These networks focus on five pillars of commitment—wellbeing, recognition, innovation, diversity and inclusion, and community—that reinforce Markel’s core values and mission.

One of the first networks formed, the Community Network, has had significant impact since it was launched in December 2020. The Community Network focuses on fostering a sense of community among Markel employees, as well as supporting Markel’s engagement with the greater community.

“The Community Network gives us an opportunity to use the might of Markel to have a far greater impact than any of us could do alone,” said Henry Gardener, Director of Legal and Chief Risk Officer, International and executive sponsor of the Community Network. “It helps Markel impact the communities that we are part of, it allows us to connect with each other and get more from being part of Markel, and it’s a chance to learn and develop.”

Making a global impact

The purpose of the Community Network is outlined in four actions:

  • Build a sense of community at Markel.
  • Build awareness.
  • Be inclusive.
  • Engage employees.

Network members volunteer to support four subgroups by organizing events and promoting activities aligned to the following:

  • Charity
  • People
  • Sports and social
  • Sustainability

Members span 14 offices in six countries across Markel’s operations. Along with an executive sponsor and co-leads, the Community Network has Community Champions located in most office locations. A Community Champion advocates for the network, bringing fresh ideas and helping promote them within their offices as well as volunteering for community events and initiatives.

The Community Network gives us an opportunity to use the might of Markel to have a far greater impact than any of us could do alone.

“The Community Network allows us, as Markel, to come together to make a greater impact,” said Tom Upton, International Head of Claims Performance, Marine and Energy and Community Network co-lead. “Whether this be from a sustainable, charitable or people angle, we can all contribute and interact globally to make the world we live in a better place. By encompassing the sports and social aspect as well, it provides a space where we can all let off some steam once the hard work is done!”

The Community Network also aligns with Markel’s Global Community Engagement efforts, sharing the same objectives for engagement through volunteerism and philanthropy. While the network focuses on local specific activities and Global Community Engagement focuses on company-wide initiatives, both segments find opportunities to collaborate on initiatives that extend Markel’s long history of philanthropy.

“We’ve learned from our local offices and strive to take the best of what each office does and coordinate as much as possible to support the communities where our employees around the world live and work,” noted Mary Allen Waller, Markel’s Global Director of Community Engagement. “Our collaborative efforts, complemented by Markel’s global footprint, enables us to continue making a positive impact worldwide.”

Employees giving back

In the charity subgroup, the network has shifted the company’s charitable giving approach to “put the power of philanthropy in the hands of employees”—a phrase commonly reflected in Markel’s Global Community Engagement activities.

“We’ve always been generous through Markel’s matching gift program, but we’ve never focused our efforts in a meaningful and thoughtful way,” explained Tammy Graham, Markel International (also known as MINT) Employee Experience and Communications Manager, who played an instrumental role in launching the Community Network. “While we chose worthwhile charities, we didn’t know if our employees were passionate about them.”

Thanks to a survey issued by the Community Network, employees selected “children and youth” as their preferred theme to support, leading to a formal partnership between MINT and Save the Children (StC), a global humanitarian organization dedicated to serving child welfare. It was clear from the outset that their principals and core values are closely aligned to the Markel Style. StC is well established globally and has a presence in all regions where Markel has an office, which will help ensure employees feel close to its shared partnership vision through meaningful regional and global engagement opportunities. Employees are encouraged to use their company-issued volunteer days—which have been widely promoted since the Community Network launched—or to make a charitable donation to support Save the Children.

Whether this be from a sustainable, charitable or people angle, we can all contribute and interact globally to make the world we live in a better place.

“Save the Children is a great charity for us, because it’s aligned with employees’ preferences to support children and youth, and it also has a global reach,” Tammy said. “We’re looking for opportunities for employees across Europe, Asia, and Canada to get involved with Save the Children initiatives going forward.”

Over the next two years, Markel will support StC in the recovery of education for children worldwide following the pandemic, through their Safe Back to School program, as well as supporting them where most needed, through flexible funding.

Employees giving time

For the past two years, Markel has organized a Big Clean Up Challenge in support of World Oceans Day.

Employees were encouraged to pick up waste from beaches, parks, or a local waterway to curb plastic pollution in their communities. Adding fun to the challenge, Markel distributes bingo cards for employees to collect certain pieces of trash. Bingo winners receive the “prize” of a donation by Markel to an environmental charity of their choice.

Last year, 52 employees across the UK volunteered their time. Two groups of US employees also participated as part of broker events. In total, more than 70 bags of trash were collected.

Markel donated to Seven Clean Seas, a not-for-profit that preserves marine environments by clearing plastic from the ocean through conservation, innovation, and education.

“Big Clean Up is good for sustainability and cleaning up the seas,” explained Tom Upton. “A lot of people who used to work in tourism now work in these new recycling facilities to help clean up the local areas and help improve the quality of the environment, which support what the community pillar is all about.”

Employees getting together

The people and sports and social subgroups bring employees closer together through networking events and internal campaigns.

One popular initiative is a storytelling campaign called “Where in the world are we?” Each month, a location shares a short video showcasing their office culture and local community. Participating offices follow a basic script but have creative freedom to express themselves, often leading to humorous yet informative videos.

We’ve learned from our local offices and strive to take the best of what each office does and coordinate as much as possible to support the communities where our employees around the world live and work.

“The intention of the office videos is to connect people across our international offices, whether they’re in London, Singapore, or Munich,” Tammy stated. “Some people have no idea what another office looks like, what the people are like, or what employees do.”

“See the world through my eyes” is another campaign which was launched as part of the wider Style In Action framework that leverages the power of personal storytelling to help employees feel more connected. Launched in 2022 across Markel North America and MINT, this campaign provides the opportunity for employees to share aspects of their lives that they may keep private, whether that be because of insecurity, fear of judgment, or potential negative consequences.

For sports and social activities, the network organizes social and/or sporting events to give employees opportunities to connect and have fun outside of work. The events are an easy way for employees to meet new people in neighboring departments as well as contribute to charitable giving. Some of these events are organized with charitable giving in mind, where employees are asked to make a small donation to a particular charity, whether that be Save the Children or Movember, an annual event bringing awareness to men’s health.

“The sports and social group is important to the Community Network, as it brings colleagues together to enjoy fun activities in a less formal environment,” noted Charlotte Nicholls, Underwriter, International Cyber Insurance. “It helps people meet and speak with people they wouldn’t usually come across in their day-to-day lives or job. It also helps employees feel rewarded in a way, like we are giving back to them for their hard work.”

Growing the Community Network

MINT’s Community Network achieves The Style In Action’s goal of bringing the Markel Style to life through meaningful, employee-led initiatives that connect Markel associates across the globe. With the network’s success in its short existence, expansion plans are in the works to further employee engagement across all MINT regions. The Community Network also plans to continue partnering with Markel’s other internal networks, ensuring collaborative opportunities between its initiatives and those of the Markel Global Community Engagement team.

“We’re very supportive of what the MINT Community Network has accomplished, and we look forward to further collaboration throughout our offices around the world,” said Mary Allen.