Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance Awards winner: Co-op Insurance

Co-op Insurance INspire Winning Team
Co-op Insurance

Following last month's Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance Awards, we caught up with all the winners. Today, we spoke to strategic human resources business partner and INspire working group chair Lisa Hooley about Co-op Insurance winning the Initiative category.

Can you explain the thinking behind INspire?

In March 2018, Co-op Insurance held an event for International Women’s Day on the matter of ‘unconscious gender bias’. A group of colleagues who attended that event decided to join together and form what is now known as the INspire network. 

The first INspire event was successfully launched in October 2018 and since then, we have delivered more than 25 events and practical workshops covering a wide range of key topics, including self-awareness, resilience and well-being, influencing, networking, personal branding, maximising the benefits of LinkedIn, personality traits and mindset matters.

Since the launch of INspire, we have built a members network of more than 300 colleagues. Our aim is for colleagues to feel empowered and supported to progress their careers regardless of gender, age, sexuality, disability and faith.

Since it was launched, what has the response/impact been?

INspire was the first regional branch of Co-op Group’s Aspire Network. Aspire is a community of colleagues who believe that all women in Co-op have a right to equality – they support each other with their careers and challenge others to support women in Co-op by raising awareness of issues that affect women.  

INspire embraced the values of Aspire and we decided that it should strive to support all colleagues regardless of gender with the aim of breaking down barriers. We like to think that the feedback indicates how successful our events have been: 90% of colleagues that have attended an INspire event said they would highly recommend the network to a colleague and 85% of those that attended found the content to be excellent or very good. 

Colleagues told us that attending the INspire events has enabled them to network across the business with colleagues they otherwise wouldn’t have met and offers colleagues the opportunity to self-reflect and develop in a relaxed environment. Events are interactive and colleagues feel comfortable in sharing their thoughts and experiences and feel supported to be themselves in a trusted and open environment. 

INspire members have told us how some of these events have encouraged them to push themselves out of their comfort zone and do things they would have previously felt uncomfortable doing, such as presenting to large or executive audiences.

Some members have also presented to the network on their own achievements and shared their own learnings. We are aware of members who have been promoted into senior management roles after applying their learnings from INspire and some members have been inspired to become mentors for colleagues. One particular colleague has become a mentor for Innovateher, which supports and encourages girls from the age of 12 upwards to consider subjects and careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. Our influence and reach goes beyond our colleagues and is also reaching young minds.

Where could the INspire initiative go next?

Our INspire members are huge advocates of the network and we therefore seem to be organically growing our membership rapidly. We want to break down as many barriers as possible to enable colleagues to feel empowered to progress their own development and careers. 

How supportive is the group in terms of raising the profile and boosting the acceptance of D&I across the business?

As well as INspire supporting self-development, we also provide colleagues with an understanding of others which allows us to acknowledge, celebrate and value the differences between us. 

What was it like being a winner at the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance Awards?

It is fantastic that the hard work and efforts of the INspire working group have been recognised. Winning this award makes us incredibly proud and we will continue to progress our agenda and make a difference 

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