Events over the past year have catapulted Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) into the sights of employees, investors, organizations, consumers and the board with a renewed urgency. As a result, there is also a sharper focus and heightened awareness that D&I should be managed within a broader human capital management strategy. Companies are pursuing their employee and board-level journeys against a backdrop of stakeholder expectations. Aon is no different. As chief people officer, I am proud of the progress we are making internally around D&I and the difference we are making in our clients’ D&I journeys.
This quarter, in addition to our thought leaders’ insights related to Q1 risk, reinsurance, health, retirement and investment trends, I am pleased to have the opportunity to share with you my perspectives around the rapidly changing Diversity & Inclusion landscape globally and to describe some of the ways Aon’s strategy and actions have evolved in this important area that transcends so many facets of our organization and society at large. Recent events have rightfully brought this topic to the forefront, and I am proud of the important work Aon is doing to lead change.
We have ingrained D&I into our culture and leadership approach and developed strategies to move beyond intentions and into definable and measurable programs and actions. We have built tools—such as the D&I metrics dashboard—to help our leaders identify where we need to improve and have empowered them to implement change. We are transparently engaging with investors and regulators to demonstrate our proactive Human Capital Management approach as part of our broader Environmental, Social and Governance strategy. We are creating change within our own organization and supporting our clients in the development of their Human Capital Management and D&I strategies and governance.
A key component of a successful D&I strategy is investing in a future workforce by developing a diverse talent pipeline and managing it transparently, which enriches company culture. I’m proud of the work we’re doing in this regard through Aon’s Apprenticeship Program: an alternative route into a permanent role that normally requires a specific degree or professional experience by providing motivated, high-potential individuals with the required training (on the job and in the classroom), professional skills development, mentorship and experiential learning to bridge the gap. By removing some of the traditional barriers to entry-level employment, Aon contributes to local workforce development and cultivates talent within key metropolitan areas across the U.S., UK, Brazil and Ireland.
But D&I isn’t only a Human Capital Management journey. Legislation, regulation and investor pressures are driving increased diversity in board composition—including gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and skills/experience—and requiring increased transparency in director candidate pipeline and policies. With tightening investor and proxy advisory firm overboarding policies, it is becoming more important than ever to build a robust pipeline of diverse boardroom talent. Aon partners with companies to assess—through an annual board evaluation process or separate targeted studies—the skills and composition of their board relative to industry practice and external stakeholder policies. Beyond diversity in the boardroom, board oversight and accountability for companywide employee D&I programs are an increasingly important part of company strategy and key to navigating external stakeholder demands.
There will continue to be an increased call for greater transparency and a stronger narrative on corporate and board-level actions that progress the D&I strategy. Investors and other stakeholders generally recognize that D&I goals may take time to achieve; however, interim progress and continued quantitative and qualitative impacts is key to demonstrating commitment. Aon’s corporate governance expertise, coupled with our deep data and analytical solutions, ensures we will meet our firm’s commitments and enables us to support our clients on their journeys.
(This piece is excerpted from the report “Aon Global Market Insights Q1 2021.” Used with permission.)