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Introduction to The Insurance Families Network (IFN)

Interview

Publication date:

20 April 2021

Last updated:

21 April 2021

Author(s):

Chartered Insurance Institute, Insurance Families Network (IFN)

The IFN are a volunteer led network founded in 2018, with the aim of making the London Insurance Market a family friendly place to work.

The steering committee consists of members from organisations and suppliers across the market, including brokers, insurers, and legal and recruitment firms. The IFN helps organisations in the market to create a truly inclusive working environment by connecting and supporting working parents and carers, raising awareness of the current issues affecting families, promoting best practice family friendly workplace policies and helping organisations to implement these policies to create truly inclusive workplaces.

The IFN collaborates with the other Inclusion@Lloyd’s Partner Networks (namely iCAN, iDAWN, GIN, LINK and NGIN) as well as external experts and market organisations. Most recently, the IFN were pleased to announce Markel International as its first official sponsor[1].

 

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) caught up with IFN co-chairs, Cristina Galindo, HR Head at Chubb, and Mary Bowie, Senior Legal Counsel of Miller, to discuss the IFN’s events, initiatives and activities, and how these are aligned with key areas of interest, including the ‘modern family’, support for working carers and neurodiversity:

How did the creation of the IFN come about?

The IFN came about in 2018 after a Dive In Festival event. Co-founders Michaela Gibson and Amanda Lucas realised there was a big gap in the insurance market with large numbers of parents and carers needing advice, resources and solutions on day-to-day issues, but a lack of networks to support them.

Cristina, what are the common obstacles working parents and carers currently face in the insurance sector?

We recognise that modern family life is probably more varied and complex than for previous generations. Our aim is to be inclusive of all types of parenting and caring: LGBTQ+, single parenting, ‘blended families’, parenting and caring of children with additional needs and all the myriad ways in which families come together.

This year we are organising initiatives and events on caring for neurodiverse children. We have also partnered with other networks and organisations in the insurance market to launch a returners programme aimed at anyone who’s taken a career break of 2 years or more and who wants to re-immerse themselves back into professional life[2].

Mary, I understand you have joined the IFN from the beginning of 2021 – do you have a particular area you are working on for this year?

Back in 2019, in partnership with the CII, the IFN launched a working carers role model booklet, “Insurance Careers because Family Matters"[3]. This showcased several working carers from across the insurance market. One thing we want to focus on this year is self-identification for carers, hidden carer profiles (eg caring responsibilities for someone with episodic mental health issues which might come and go on an ad hoc basis, and/or people with substance abuse/addiction problems – spouses, adult children – which can lead to an additional layer of challenge and stigma for working carers). We are hoping to feature further carer profiles on social media for Carers’ Week in Q3 and facilitate a market wide session for carers/policy roundtable. World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2021 is in October, followed by Work Life Week. The IFN is also working with the organisation “How Do You Do It” to provide a coaching event for balancing work, life and caring responsibilities. The overall aim is to guide organisations on carer policy development.

How has the lockdown over the past year affected working families? Similarly, what sort of impact will returning to work/office have on those who have either been furloughed or working remotely over the past year?

Working parents and carers have been hit disproportionately hide by COVID-19 and we call on all organisations to review and increase the informal and formal support they are offering their working parents in terms of agile/flexible working patterns, leave in particular. 

Furlough and financial uncertainty/’income shock’ has become a real issue. 

We have engaged with the Insurance Charities, who provide financial and practical support for any current or former insurance employees facing financial hardship to those that have suffered an unexpected life event such as illness, tragedy, redundancy, domestic abuse or relationship breakdown. The charity also helps the dependants of those working in insurance such as children and partners. 

The stress and added pressures of a lockdown environment has in some cases led to an increase in domestic conflict. Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on families. There are a number of dedicated groups that can assist employers in this area including the Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA), which is a growing network of large and small businesses whose aim is to enable employers to take action on domestic abuse. They have produced a free toolkit, co-authored by Business in the Community and Public Health England, which offers employers guidance and support and consolidates the best evidence and employer practice[4].

Are there any resources you would like to highlight?

The IFN’s website has numerous resources and links to more information on the various initiatives, mentioned in this article, including The Insurance Charities details and EIDA toolkit.  For the latest advice on juggling work and caring during COVID-19 please visit the Carers UK Advice page. Additional guidance is available at the Gov.uk advice pages and the NHS support pages.

What sort of networking opportunities has the IFN created/been involved with?

Our events and activities touch on topics that are very important and personal to our members. Caring for a child with special needs, balancing a young family with a demanding career or having caring responsibilities for elderly parents are not always topics colleagues are willing to speak about openly in the workplace. With aim at creating awareness, breaking taboos and connecting people with similar challenges or interests.

 

To find out more about the IFN’s events, initiatives and strategic partnerships please visit: insurancefamilies.org

 

References:

[1] https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5adf396889c1722c3aede0ef/t/603e1afb32c6ef79430f9c7d/1614682876512/Press+Release+-+Markel+announced+as+the+first+sponsor+of+the+IFN.pdf

[2] https://inclusivity.co.uk/insurance-returners

[3] https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5adf396889c1722c3aede0ef/t/5de4fa3e01908e60730f8559/1575287369686/IFN+Carers+Role+Model+Showcase+Book+-+v.1.pdf

[4] https://www.eida.org.uk/toolkit-for-employers?rq=toolkit

This document is believed to be accurate but is not intended as a basis of knowledge upon which advice can be given. Neither the author (personal or corporate), Society of Claims Professionals or Chartered Insurance Institute, or any of the officers or employees of those organisations accept any responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the data or opinions included in this material. Opinions expressed are those of the author or authors and not necessarily those of the Society or Chartered Insurance Institute.