Generali Group started its Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) journey about five years ago. One of the first steps for the organisation was creating a well-defined governance in the form of the Group D&I Council. The Group D&I Council is made up of business leaders from the main countries, regions and business units of the Group that are responsible for defining local ambitions and D&I action plans. Since the start of its journey, the global insurance group has gradually introduced different inclusion topics including gender equality, LGBTQI+, and disability inclusion into its workplace. Generali also implemented a global D&I index to make sure all business units are involved and held accountable, and more importantly, to make sure progress is measurable.
For large, global organisations like Generali, it is difficult to design a single policy that fits all, as each country may hold different D&I priorities and challenges. As such, a great deal of consideration had to be taken into account given Generali’s federated business model in Asia in order to effectively roll-out our D&I strategy across the region.
“Being decentralised gives us the ability to empower Generali’s markets in Asia to focus on the D&I priorities most relevant to them. At the same time, each market can leverage the best practice from our Group, and also other countries across the region.” Susan Foyn, Head of Organisation and Change Management, Asia, says.
From Generali’s experience, it is vital for large organisations to define a clear strategy at the beginning of their D&I journey and understanding how D&I can benefit the business itself is key. A well-defined D&I strategy often enables companies to attract a wider talent pool, as well as gaining greater insight into its customer base. This is also the case with Generali. Generali’s D&I strategy is very much business-driven and it is fundamental to creating long-term value, driving innovation, and providing better business solutions. These factors are critical to the global insurance group’s business transformation and competitiveness in the long run.
And the secret to keeping D&I topics warm on the global insurance group’s top agenda? While having support from senior management is crucial to the long-term success of its strategy, in Generali Asia’s Regional Office they have taken a top-down and bottom-up approach at the same time that involves passionate and committed employees during the policy design phase, and they formed an Employee Resource Group in order to drive the agenda together. As a result, Generali Asia’s Regional Office was able to keep employees engaged on its D&I initiatives to build its desired corporate culture.
“There is no playbook for the D&I journey, otherwise we would all be following it. Be prepared to fail and learn from your mistakes.” Foyn notes.
Once it achieved a general level of D&I awareness, the Regional Office implemented an Inclusive Internship program in 2018, which aimed to enhance workplace diversity. This was when they were faced with more challenges.
“The first challenge was finding the intern. The second was identifying what kind of adjustments and support the intern would need in the workplace. And the third, was around how do we provide the right ongoing support.” Foyn recalls.
After facing challenges in the first year with an intern who is almost 100% visually impaired, the partnership between Generali and CareER in 2019 was a natural match for both parties. Jockey Club Collaborative Project for Inclusive Employment – CareER Thriving Grass Career Development Program provides thorough guidance and support to employers and candidates from job matching, counselling, all the way to internship support.
Matthew (in the middle) is one of the interns who has been placed at Generali through the Thriving Grass Program in summer 2021.
Together with CareER, Generali’s Inclusive Internship program is now running into its third year. This year alone, Generali has successfully recruited three interns through CareER, which brings to a total of 12 CareER members across the Regional Office and Hong Kong business over the three years, with some being offered longer term opportunities after the completion of their internships.