S4 EP28: Diversity of thought and the power of words – with Sandy Locke, Global Chief People Officer, Aon

“Statistics show that productivity and the delivery of innovation is much higher with diversity in your teams. I’m passionate about really helping people think about it bigger than just gender or race. It’s diversity of thought”, says Sandy.

“A few weeks ago, the new Head of our Global Risk Analytics team was observing a group going through a presentation. It wasn’t just pages being put together and somebody talking through each slide, they were really debating what they were bringing to the client. It was watching diversity of thought in action.”

Sandy charts her early career journey from banking through the non-profit sector to her current role at Aon, and the common theme of workforce transformation and change management through each role.

“I’ve always looked at leadership and how we make workforce decisions for people. People are my passion and helping them find pleasure and purpose in their work.”

Sandy emphasizes how the insurance industry needs to do a better job of attracting talent.

“If you think about reinsurance from a training perspective, it really is three renewal cycles before someone really understands the nuances. For the generation that’s rising, that’s a long time. We have to do a better job of creating excitement and a value proposition of what this insurance career journey could be. We have to tell the insurance story better.”

Sandy gives insight in to her Global Chief People Officer role overseeing 3400 reinsurance colleagues and an additional 500 in the Strategy & Technology group.

She highlights the importance of innovative leadership at a time of incredible global change and stresses the key role inclusivity plays in developing diverse insurance leaders across the business.

“There’s gender, there’s ethnicity and there’s also perspective and socioeconomic differences. Having an inclusive diverse team is super important. The segmentation strategy we have has really been key to bringing more opportunities for diverse leaders to be given their voice and learning how to lead across the firm.”

Sharing the dramatic impact using Textio in job adverts has had on creating a more diverse candidate pool, Sandy demonstrates how it’s used on wider marketing and people manager training to ensure talent retention in the face of rising private-equity backed competition.

“Retaining talent in reinsurance with the explosion of these disruptors that are coming in. There are not just two or three main reinsurance brokers anymore. We’ve got some emerging private equity firms backing the development of firms to compete against us and a lot of what they’re selling is the opportunity to build something. But I will always say if you really want to be the best at what you do for your clients, Aon has invested in the tools and technologies.”

Sandy gives her advice to insurance executives coming to interview at Aon as well as how insurance industry people leaders can build the best teams for their organizations.

“We’re all trying to build the best team for our clients and for our organization. As someone who is trying to serve the people, you want it to be a good fit, a win-win. When I lose people to a competitor, this is a small world here and it’s really important that we exit as respectfully as we enter.”

Sandy concludes with the one lesson her job has taught her that she thinks everyone should know.

“People matter in a way that you don’t realize. Our words are impactful. We all create a culture. It’s not just the leaders, we’re all responsible for that. We spend so much time at work. It’s really important to me that people enjoy what they do and they enjoy the people they’re with. It’s up to us to develop a culture where all people can grow and feel connected and be valued, seen and heard.”

Connect with Sandy Locke on LinkedIn or find out more about insurance career opportunities at Aon.

The Insurance Coffee House Podcast is hosted by Nick Hoadley, CEO of Insurance Search.

Insurance Search is a global Executive Search Consultancy, supporting Insurance and Insurtech businesses with Critical Hires, Executive Search and Market Intelligence Services.

To discuss identifying & attracting the very best insurance talent to your team or being a guest on the Insurance Coffee House Podcast, reach out to Nick via nick.hoadley@insurance-search.com

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