Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance Awards winner: Axa's Amanda Ferguson

D&I Amanda Ferguson
Amanda Ferguson picked up the award from Insurance Age editor Sian Barton

Following last month's Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance Awards, we caught up with all the winners. Today, we feature Gender Equality Champion Amanda Ferguson, senior procurement manager at Axa and chair of the insurer's Gender Equality Employee Resource Group.

Can you explain the thinking behind the Gender Equality Employee Resource Group (ERG)?

We believe in a working environment where people are supported and inspired to progress in their career, with no prejudices holding back their development.

The ERG is dedicated to raising awareness, sharing knowledge and encouraging networking. It showcases positive role models for all and promotes gender balance across our entire business.

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

The Gender Equality ERG has grown a lot since it was launched in 2016. We now have an active taskforce of 15 members and a community of 400 members but it takes time to build a presence and reputation. 

The past year has been very busy, with a lot of events organised at many Axa sites across the UK, from panel discussions to role model lunches to speed mentoring sessions. Employees at all levels have been involved, from new joiners to board level, and we’ve received enthusiastic feedback and requests to do more.

Where could the Gender Equality ERG go next?

We want to continue engaging with everyone across our sites and will continue to run our events through 2020. We’ll probably focus more on providing opportunities for those just starting their careers with Axa so they can achieve their full potential.

In parallel, we’ve started outreach activities. We’re supporting a number of clothing drives to get disadvantaged men and women into the workplace and we’re talking with schools about providing speed mentoring sessions on site on topics to suit their students. There is so much we want to do.

Our taskforce members are doing this voluntarily on top of their day jobs but that doesn’t stop us aiming high each year!

Can you expand on why you think it is important to get involved in mentoring and supporting charity events around gender equality themes?

In the past, an old boys’ club system has helped men secure positions, promotions and power. Certainly, insurance is still trying to break its pale, white, male image.

Mentoring is helping a more diverse group climb up the professional ladder as it showcases diverse role models with real stories that people can connect to. The principle might look similar but it is much more positive and, obviously, inclusive.

We support charity events around gender equality because it shows we are an employer that cares about it but also, and more importantly, it reinforces our commitment to provide equal opportunities for all.

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

Inclusion is part of the Axa culture. We care about it, in terms of gender, sexual orientation, ability or ethnicity.

We’re past the stage of raising its profile or boosting its acceptance. It is now about results, how we measure them and how we improve them – and we are very determined to achieve better results year on year.

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

It was a great inaugural event and I felt very honoured to be recognised by the insurance industry that night. It was also encouraging to hear about so many worthy nominees doing some amazing work and being championed across many organisations, both large and small.

I thought, as an industry, we are definitely making progress, even if there is always more to do, but with such passionate supporters, we’ll get there. 

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