Pride Month boosts workplace diversity but action needed as well as words

CEO Sharon Bishop celebrates with the winners of Close Brothers Premium Finance ’Team of the Quarter,’  following a vote by all the company’s colleagues
At the BIBA conference in Manchester last month I was interviewed at the Close Brothers Premium Finance (CBPF) stand for BIBA TV, and one of the interview topics was the diversity challenge that the insurance industry faces. 
I made the point that, while there has been plenty of focus on the gender pay gap, in truth the diversity debate has moved on in the last couple of years. It’s not just about bringing more women into the industry, although that remains a priority, but reaching out to the LGBTQ+ community, alongside young people and older people wanting to come back into work too. 
Fast forward to June, and I’m especially proud to celebrate Pride month, and the chance to sponsor a number of initiatives within CBPF to underscore the importance of a truly diverse workforce. 
Now I love a celebration, and I’m looking forward to taking part in a number of activities we have planned at CBPF for Pride Month. But there is a serious message behind the fun.
Our industry needs to compete for the best talent – and the best talent from all backgrounds is essential - if it is going to continue to thrive and prosper. A business which doesn’t truly reflect the community it’s a part of will eventually wither.
Our recent and highly successful survey of UK broking attitudes (i) found that 44% of brokers think a diverse workforce is critical to the future success of broking. And in my own career – at CBPF and elsewhere – being able to call on different opinions, views and outlooks is a better way to get to the right decision. It’s not just about gender - ethnicity, sexual preference and background matter equally. 
So, Pride Month sees us at CBPF inviting the charity Stonewall into our offices in Wimbledon to give their insights into life as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and we’re also profiling our own inspirational LGBTQ+ colleagues on our internal networks. It’s all part of encouraging people to express their beliefs and cultures in a supportive environment. 
It’s not enough, however, to simply celebrate Pride Month, then pack away the rainbow logos for another year and consider the job done.  Listening must be followed by a drive to adopt imaginative solutions that remove barriers and find different models for our workplace that offer plenty of choice for new talent; whatever their background and gender.