Marianne Cowie ACII, Strategic Execution Manager and Chair of Zurich Pride UK
Q. Do you think that the industry has changed since you started working in it? If so, how has it changed?
A. I’ve only worked in the industry since 2015, but yes, I do think it has changed and I’ve seen a steady shift towards a more modern, progressive industry. Technology is providing more opportunities to service our customers and collaborate and on the people side, we’re seeing so much more flexibility and empowerment; whether that’s around where and when people work, how they choose to dress, or how they can take ownership of their careers.
Insurance D&I network initiatives are also increasing in number and reach. From the infamous Dive-In Festival, to groups like Link, iCAN, GIN, iDAWN, NGIN and the Insurance Family network – the industry is definitely no longer avoiding talking about its historical lack of diversity. I truly hope this continues in a meaningful way and doesn’t stray into performative activism, ask me again in another six years!
Q.What has been the key positive or negative impact of change in your area of the market?
A. I’m sure there are many tipping points you could call out, but one that stands out for me is that we are so much more willing to have a conversation and break down silos across our business. Whether that’s Underwriting working more closely with Claims to share valuable insights, or Executive committees opening their doors to the Employee Resource Groups to better understand the challenges that face certain communities. The virtual environment, whilst it has its challenges, has also helped accelerate this and remind everyone that we’re all humans trying our best, our customers included!
Q. Who inspires you and why?
A. Honestly, there are so many people that inspire me, either because of their strength of belief in themselves and their values, or the way they pull up others around them. I love to see other LGBTQ+ people being unapologetically themselves, particularly in a more traditional industry. I love to see women and non-binary colleagues forging new paths up to leadership positions, and then keeping the doors open for others behind them. I am always inspired by the people who help others, whether that’s through charity work, volunteering, education or simply being a kind soul.
There are so many people that inspire me, either because of their strength of belief in themselves and their values, or the way they pull up others around them. I love to see other LGBTQ+ people being unapologetically themselves, particularly in a more traditional industry
Q. Have you had/got a mentor? If so, what was the most valuable piece of advice they gave you? A.I do! I’ve picked up a couple, both through official mentor schemes but also just through asking people I admired if they’d mentor me. Most recently, my mentor has really challenged my thinking and encouraged me to lift my head up from the here and now, where I was feeling a bit stuck, and think bigger. Another really great bit of advice I’ve been given is that it’s all very good knowing what you think you’re good at, but what are you known for?
Q. If you had to choose one other company to work for, who would it be and why?
A. Tough question – and so I’ll answer it like this. I have high standards for where I want to work; I want my employer to have a transparent approach to sustainability, a strong stance on diversity and inclusion, a work environment that encourages ideas, isn’t obsessed with hierarchy and a reward and recognition system that’s based on performance not presenteeism.
Q. If you were not in your current position, what would you be doing?
A. What I’d really love to be doing is running a well-loved, local country pub with my wife. I’d be the one spending far too many hours talking to people and hearing about their lives!