Leading the diversity charge in Canada

It is commonly accepted notion in today’s business world that diversity and inclusion are imperatives for success.

In an industry that hasn’t exactly distinguished itself in this area, Swiss Re is taking bold steps to lead. One way is by building support within the industry, and you’ll find no better example than in the Canadian Association of Insurance Women (CAIW).

Lori Duclos was installed as CAIW President at the organisation’s annual general meeting in Montreal, and Nia Joynson-Romanzina was a keynote speaker at the CAIW Education Day. Duclos is a Property Facultative Underwriter in the Toronto office and Joynson-Romanzina is Swiss Re’s Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion.

“When CAIW was formed 45 years ago many of the founding members were in clerical roles,” says Duclos. “To get promoted, these women needed more education and the occasion to network. CAIW was formed to provide women with educational and networking opportunities, and to help members develop their professional skills.”

Duclos is eminently qualified for the office. During her 20 year involvement in the organisation, she has served a two-year term as President of her local Association - the Toronto Women’s Insurance Association - and held all four executive officer roles on the CAIW national board leading up to her current position.

At CAIW’s Education Day,  spoke about diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“Our clients are becoming increasingly active in terms of diversity and inclusion, with the topic becoming a strategic priority to a growing number of firms in and outside the insurance industry. We have a unique chance to leverage our position as a differentiator in the market," says Joynson-Romanzina.

She continues: “Speaking at the CAIW was a wonderful way to connect with clients in Canada. It gave us a chance to communicate our commitment to those clients who are already active, and share our understanding and vision with those who are still learning.”

Joynson-Romanzina noted that Canada is a paradigm both in terms of cultural and organisational diversity. For example, Canada tops the global community in terms of numbers of female CEOs while cultural and racial diversity is an integral part of daily Canadian life.

Further, she told the audience that the key to recognising diversity of thought is to first achieve self-awareness and recognise one’s own preferences and personality traits.

“Through self-awareness you can start to appreciate other people’s preferences and realise that one trait is not better than another, they are simply different,“ Joynson-Romanzina concludes.

Published 8 June 2011

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