As February draws to a close, so does LGBT+ History Month which schools, museums and businesses, including financial services, across the UK have been celebrating. The aim is to “educate out prejudice” and make LGBT+ individuals visible in their rich diversity.
Here, Aviva shares its approach to ensuring LGBT+ inclusivity.
How does Aviva approach LGBT+ inclusivity as an employer?
We firmly believe everyone at Aviva should be able to be themselves and that having a more inclusive workplace means better outcomes for Aviva’s customers and people.
To that end we have had our Aviva Pride community in place for over a decade. It is one of six employee resource groups in total: Ability (disabilities), Balance (gender parity), Carers (caring responsibilities), Generations (age), Origins (race, ethnicity, religion and social mobility) and Pride (LGBT+). All of these groups have more than one executive co-sponsor.
We’ve found, as a company, it’s valuable to gather diversity insights from our employees in order to better provide support to those from minority backgrounds and learn how, where and when we need to intervene.
What are some of the practical ways Aviva is showing this support?
We have transitioning at work policies which include guidance for employees who are transitioning, and for leaders to provide support.
And we make sure our broader policies feed into our LGBT+ inclusivity and support.
For a start, we offer equal parental leave which allows new parents – regardless of sexual orientation – to take equal amount of paid and unpaid parental leave when a new child arrives. This is the same for adoption and surrogacy. We offer up to one year of leave, of which 26 weeks’ is at full basic pay, for parents employed by the company within the first 12 months of a child’s arrival.
Another example is Aviva’s carers leave policy means employees can take up to 35 hours per year (pro-rated for part-time) for caring responsibilities. This includes attending medical appointments with a close family member who is trans.
As with all employees, trans employees have access to an employee assistance programme which offers counselling and an information advice service to help them work through issues that might be impacting their mental wellbeing.
We’re always looking to improve our best practice though, so we partner with several organisations that help us do that, such as Trans in the City and Mermaids. We also work closely with Stonewall to ensure policies, practices and culture support their LGBT+ community. Progress to date has seen Aviva recognised inside the top 50 of the Stonewall Employer Index. Following Stonewall feedback to improve our Bi+ and trans inclusion, we focused several events on these identities. For example, we held an event with a bisexual Muslim speaker covering intersectionality of faith and sexuality, and non-binary webinars including stories from two of our own employees.
This is an evolving area for the corporate world. What have you done more recently to enable LGBT+ inclusivity at Aviva?
Some of the progress we’ve made recently include the launch of Aviva Pride’s Allies Guide which has specific content for employees to learn more about being an ally for trans and non-binary colleagues.
We’ve also now made sure employees can state their preferred name and gender-neutral title using Aviva’s human resources software. This is something which may help employees transitioning at work and can also benefit our non-binary colleagues. And Aviva’s Pride community is continuing to encourage employees to add their pronouns to their email signature and Microsoft Teams status to help normalise sharing pronouns.
Aviva also encourages colleagues to complete a Workplace Adjustment Passport. The passport is designed to make it easy for colleagues to discuss with their leader how their circumstances, disability or condition impacts their ability to do their role. It captures all agreed workplace adjustments, whether they are physical changes to working environment or alterations to working arrangements.
How do you see things progressing on this in asset management as a whole?
Diversity, equity and inclusion in asset management has typically been behind other sectors and mainstream financial services businesses. It is good that we’re beginning to see progress though. The industry-wide work of the Diversity Project is playing an important role showcasing best practice and helping firms move forward. We are active members of the LGBT+ workstream within the initiative – working together with other asset managers to empower and enable LGBT+ people and collaborating on initiatives to increase industry engagement.
That does sound good! And what’s on the horizon for Aviva in terms of LGBT+ inclusivity?
Looking ahead we are focusing on creating a diverse, inclusive organisation – that is a fundamental part of living up to Aviva’s purpose of being with you today, for a better tomorrow.
For us, that means being there for all our people, serving all our customers well, and helping to contribute to fairer, more equal communities. This is underpinned by our Aviva values of care and community.
In terms of our Pride Network – they will be hosting a range of activities and events to inform and educate our people and drive allyship across the business and we will continue our sponsorship of the Dive In festival which promotes diversity and inclusion in insurance.
And of course, we will continue to encourage our colleagues to provide their diversity data, to help us be more inclusive.