The launch of Inspiring Colour at Covéa

As a company we want to make sure the voices of our people are heard and that everyone is represented...

When you look back on 2020, it’s safe to say there’s a lot to digest – living through a pandemic, worldwide protests, the devastating bush fires in Australia and America, and the deadly Beirut explosion to name a few.   

The events of the summer surrounding racial injustice sparked conversations within the company about how we can better support our people. As a company we aim to do the best for our customers, our partners and our people and we understand whole heartedly that there is always room for us to grow and be better. Head of HR & Reward, Karyn Strickland explains that “although diversity and inclusion was already strongly embedded within the culture of Covéa, the events of the summer were so shocking we decided we needed to reconsider whether we were doing enough to promote racial equality as these events made it clear there is a need to do more”.  

With this in mind an internal network was created so that we can listen and learn from the voices of our people who are from a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds. Karyn says that the Inspiring Colour at Covéa group “realised that this is about so much more than racism and has the potential for so many positive outcomes across the business and in the communities where we live and work. The stories that we had shared had resurfaced for some, feelings of pain, shame and humiliation and we needed a name that felt inspiring and welcoming regardless of anyone’s ethnicity. The impact of colour isn’t just about skin tones after all.”   

The group is currently made up of 30 members who are of varying ages, experiences and backgrounds and are from all across our business. Each person joined for their own personal reason, Jessica Andre-Hardy wanted to be involved because she believes “every workplace should be diverse and mirror its community and customer demographic. Race and racism is very close to my heart and I want to support in any way I can.” Hakowitz Tan joined because “being relatively new to the country, I am acutely aware that I sometimes stick out like a sore thumb surrounded by people who do not look like me. Whilst I have not experienced any direct discrimination brought on because of my skin colour, I know that I am part of the minority as a person of colour. So getting involved in a group like Inspiring Colour at Covéa is my way of educating myself as to spotting signs, offering help where I can and generally lending a shoulder to this community.”   

Aroon Jackson decided to join the group because of everything that’s been “going on in the world, especially in America. I want change, we need change. I have children and I don’t want them to have to grow up and deal with the same things that I’ve been through”. Aroon believes that the group can help “highlight the struggle a person with mixed backgrounds can face, talk about race without offending someone or classing it as “banter” and help educate people and future generations. I want this group to empower people to take a stand and make a change and give a voice to those who have previously gone unheard.”   

Having such honest and open conversations about race can be difficult, especially if there’s worry of causing offence. Ferial Baker, another member of Inspiring Colour at Covéa believes that “the only way we’ll overcome differences is by talking about them.” Aroon thinks that people shouldn’t “be scared to talk about things, the time for talking and taking action is now” and Hakowitz explains that “more often than not it’s how you say it rather than what you say”.  

In a recent YouGov survey, ‘84% of BAME Britons think the UK is still very or somewhat racist’.  

Racism isn’t something that anyone should have to deal with but unfortunately it does happen. Every time Laurence Sorhaindo goes shopping “the security will follow behind me closely and slyly (or they believe so)” and Aroon’s eldest son has been called “Josh Brown” at school because of his skin colour. Ferial believes she’s “been quite lucky” to “not have experienced a lot of racism” but it shouldn’t be a case of being lucky, it should be the norm to live in a society without any sort of discrimination.  

Inspiring Colour at Covéa was officially launched in October, during Black History Month. A month that celebrates the history, culture and achievements of black people throughout time. 

During October Covéa Insurance also signed up to the Race at Work Charter. Hannah Parsons, Senior Manager for Culture & Inclusion at Covéa Insurance, says “the time for change is long overdue. Signing the Race at Work charter is an important public declaration of our commitment to improving racial diversity and equality. Our focus now is on developing a plan of purposeful action to affect positive and lasting change both within our business and beyond. For that to happen we need to be open to hearing and seeing the world through the lenses of others: by better understanding how our experiences differ, we can work together to create a fairer and equal world for everyone. Our Inspiring Colour at Covéa network will be instrumental in shaping and evolving our approach. We are and will continue to work tirelessly to foster a diverse and inclusive culture where everyone at Covéa is treated fairly, equally and respectfully and where we can all feel safe to be ourselves at work. 

Karyn adds that “signing the charter and introducing our new networking group to support the community of colour at Covéa marks the start of an important new phase on our journey towards increased racial understanding and harmony, and I am delighted that our CEO, James Reader, is passionate about this, he is connecting and listening to the network as he wants to learn and understand the issues to be able to support our people. He is actively championing the group.” 

 

-Ends-

 

Notes to Editors:

About Covéa Insurance

Covea Insurance Plc is the UK underwriting business of leading French mutual insurance group Covéa, who are number 1 for property and liability insurance in France, generating over 16.6 billion Euros in premiums in 2020. 

Covéa Insurance looks after the insurance needs of over 1.5 million policyholders; delivering financial reassurance through its Standard & Poor’s A+ stable rating, as a guaranteed subsidiary of Covéa. 

The company offers motor, household, protection, pet, mid and high net worth insurance and a range of commercial insurance products, through a range of distribution channels. Employing over 1800 people, Covéa Insurance has a strong people and service ethos, having Investors In People Gold accreditation and is signatory to the HM Treasury Women In Finance Charter. It also has World Class service accreditation from the Institute of Customer Service for its Motor Claims, Home Claims and Underwriting Services teams as well as Chartered Insurer status for its Commercial and Mid/High Net Worth business.

In 2018, Covéa Insurance were recipients of the Personal Lines Insurer of the Year award at both the British Insurance Awards and the Insurance Times Awards and was the top rated insurer in the Insurance Times Broker Service Survey for both Personal and Commercial Lines.

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