Meet Scarlet Marie Morgan
08 March 2021
15 March 2021
Society of Claims Professionals
Interview with Scarlet Marie Morgan, claims administrator and trans ambassador, Allianz.
In this interview with Scarlet Marie we discuss her career journey as an insurance claims professional, how this journey developed after coming out as a trans woman, the importance of D&I initiatives in the workplace and how resources can provide helpful information for everyone.
James Moorhouse: Hello, this is James Moorhouse from the Chartered Insurance Institute here. And today I am joined by Scarlet Marie Morgan, who is a claims administrator and trans ambassador at Allianz, who’s going to talk to us today about her experiences in the insurance profession as well as her transition. So, hello Scarlet Marie.
Scarlet Marie Morgan: Hello James.
JM: I wanted to just start off by asking how did you get into the insurance sector? And what kind of role did you apply for initially?
SMM: Of course. I was in insurance before, but it was life insurance. So it was the generic, “hello, have you got your life insurance?” such and such, and then it went from there. And then I saw an advert for Allianz insurance as a claims handler. Now I thought, “brilliant, fantastic, I’ll go as a claims handler”, thinking it was to do with life insurance. Went for the interview, went fantastic. Then I realised it was car insurance. And low and behold I was that person that was quite shocked when they said it was a car insurance claims handling role for motor vehicles, fleet vehicle claims. And I, well apparently I must have excelled in the interview. So with zero experience in the car insurance and the car claims I actually got the role and landed it as a claims handler at Allianz insurance.
JM: Brilliant. So when all that happened, were you aware of any D&I initiatives when you applied or started that role?
SMM: Honestly, no. I think it’s brilliant what Allianz do. They give you a full eight weeks, it’s a very intensive training course where you learn about the job itself, rather than what they do as a company and what they can provide. I think only later into actually starting the role. I think even six years ago it was still very different because there wasn’t as many D&I initiatives. There was a lot of innovative groups and such. But there was no real decisions made about what they can do, things thy can provide for staff, and such and such, until I suppose six years in. I’m not saying I was the trendsetter and I turned up and they were like, “let’s all do all this!”, because that’s not how it was I’m sure. There was many things in the pipeline, but I wasn’t really aware of a lot that was going on. It might have been my naivety with the insurance industry. However, I wasn’t aware of too much going on when I first started. But then low and behold a few years later it was like an explosion of everything they could give you – networks, initiatives – it was all provided for you.
JM: OK. So in terms of say applying an internal corporate D&I strategy, how relevant is that when applying customer claims?
SMM: I think it’s vital, because a D&I initiative or strategy is to support diversity and inclusiveness. Now as a company, I don’t think a company can provide anything to a customer if they don’t appreciate their diversity, their inclusiveness. For example, we can’t have a culture of a workplace which celebrates diversity, and then along the lines of a claims something doesn’t support that diverse customer or doesn’t show that diversity. So I think it’s really important to realise that the customer and the employee are exactly the same. So that’s where the initiatives should all come into play and a customer and the employee should have an equal diverse culture, an equal inclusive workspace, so you can provide it. Because there’s so many different people out there now, it’s really hard to pinpoint one thing. So it’s learning embracing and continuing to improve. No one’s ever perfect, so it’s continuing to improve. So whatever you apply to your employees, your colleagues, it has to be applied to your customers, because otherwise the customer’s not going to know the great work that you’re doing. And then the same thing with the colleagues, will not give the same service to a customer than they would for their colleagues and employees.
JM: OK, so moving on. More personally speaking, in terms of as an employee, what was the reaction like when you came out as trans initially? I mean, also personal and professional?
SMM: Yeah, I’ll start off with professional. I can’t say it was a shock to them. Basically I was a very flamboyant individual, so prior to me actually coming out as transgender I actually was a drag queen. So I worked the Birmingham community, raising awareness for the entire LGBT community. And it was always something that was there, however it was not something that I was ready to come out with. Work explored every option beforehand, so before I had even came out officially to work there was under-talks. So there was a case of, “whatever you want to do, we’re completely with you”. As for reaction, I don’t think it was any different. It was just a case of, oh you know, “there’s Davey…oh, here’s Scarlet”. It was kind of almost like a magic trick that I had performed. But no one really seemed to react upon it which was quite shocking, because it’s the insurance industry. You would have expected a few ruffled feathers. But no, it was very streamline. Then with personally I have had some hiccups. Certain family members. I mean I have one family member who’s very religious and other family members who just don’t get it. And that’s fine. It’s not for them to get and that’s what I say. I can’t be fighting for my opinion to be heard and my voice, and then disregard somebody else’s. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion. I suppose it’s just a case of finding a way to talk about that opinion rather than making it seem so, you know, horrible and discriminative towards a transgender person. But I would say, quite a positive experience. And it’s only been a year, so quite good to be fair James.
JM: Good to hear that things have gone well so far. But was there anything lacking during this early period or could have been done better? I mean, did it impact your job role at all?
SMM: Job role, no. If anything I think it gave my career a really good kick. I was a rep for one of the Pride networks that supported the LGBTQ community at Allianz insurance. When I came out as transgender, I don’t think I wanted to any longer be that ‘poster person’. So made a few posters, you know, waved a few rainbow flags, attended Pride events. I really wanted to assist with initiatives. There wasn’t a voice for a transgender person in the Allianz industry that I knew of. So I was very much like, right OK then, I’m going to put my stamp on this and I’m going to make a little bit of a stand. And that’s where the role came about. But as for workwise, not at all. If anything, it improved it. Any time I was applying anything to a customer, a customer could relate. And a lot of the times I was able to implement changes into a few processes as well where I felt it was a little bit old fashioned and didn’t necessarily apply as an open and diverse inclusive culture. And then I believe it was about negativity and anything negative that happened. I think anything that was lacking, because there’s always something lacking, I think we can’t always say life is peaches and cream. I don’t think it is for anyone, whether that be a cis male or a transgender female. It was awareness going into it. It was a case of people were not necessarily aware, and that might just be the industry as it stood. It’s been round prior people of not such a diverse culture and so there’s not necessarily been any need to raise awareness for it. Whereas when people learn about my story via my blogs, they were quite shocked. A lot of prior generations, I’m not going to say ‘old generations’ because I don’t want to seem offensive, but the older ‘generation’ did come to me and were very shocked. They had said that it was very much that they thought it was a case of, click your fingers, go into the doctors and you come out female. Or they can say, “OK, you’re a female”. They weren’t aware of the process, they was not aware of the quite a traumatic thing people have to go through just to get to that point of saying medically you’re a female. You know, so it was awareness. I think a lot of it was awareness to what they didn’t know. But that’s not saying they didn’t want to know, because as soon as it was, you know, made aware to them, they were very much like, “this is brilliant, this is fantastic. We want to work with this and we want to work with you”. So I would say awareness and that probably applies to most companies, more awareness for trans individuals.
JM: You mentioned before about being involved in Pride and other events. Are there any professional resources or networks that you’ve used, and if so could you tell us a bit more about those?
SMM: Stonewall is an absolutely fantastic, it’s like a memoir of information for very single individual of the LGBTQ community. A lot of people don’t know what Stonewall was, but it was obviously the riots that really started the Pride events and stared rights for the LGBTQ community. It’s just full of so much information. Things that shock me still to this day that when I get the reading information, well are you joking, this is what happened? And I think that is something I think everyone should always go on. So it’s just the stonewall.org.uk [sic] and they’re also on LinkedIn. They have pages where they post, and Instagram and Facebook as well. They’re just incredible, they’re a well of knowledge. It doesn’t seem to ever end and a lot of people are surprise at the dates. They don’t suspect that things changed in 1990, they think it was, you know, 1890 where things changed. So when the dates come in they’re like, “what, this was only 30 years ago?” So it’s quite shocking what you can learn from there. LinkedIn – I know I mentioned it at Stonewall – but LinkedIn, obviously this is where me and you connected James as well, which is fantastic. It’s just…it’s incredible. It’s basically like Facebook but everything you want to know without the horrible side of things. So you don’t need to hear about all these negative things and have these negative comments. Of course you’re going to get them. But LinkedIn really, it really opens the doors to everybody and there’s so many more trans ambassadors out there. There’s so many more stories out there. There’s people who are, you know, asexual or people who are of different genders. I’d say if anyone’s ever wondering about what to do or how to learn about it, I’d say Stonewall would be your first approach because you can remain anonymous of course. But then a step from that, go on LinkedIn and then read people’s stories because people are really happy to connect with you.
JM: Alright, that sounds good. So could you now go into a bit more detail about your role as a trans ambassador and what you do?
SMM: I’m trying to think how to word it from the very beginning really. When I came out as trans I was…I was a very loud person anyway. I don’t know if you’ll ever pick it up from this interview.
JM: No comment (laughs).
SMM: I was a very loud individual. And quite…I always wanted to be heard. So I didn’t necessarily want to do anything quietly. Life was a stage, so I was very happy with that. And I didn’t want that to end. A very good friend of mine actually said, because I was previously a drag queen, that “the show has come to an end now because you’re a female”. And I was very much a bit shocked by it to be fair. I was like, but the show hasn’t ended. I think the show just has to change to a different place where I can shine the light on things. And what I thought needed the most light was transgender people in the insurance industry. You don’t hear about them. You know, people think and assume it’s automatically a man in a shirt and a suitcase or a briefcase. Whatever it is, they don’t necessarily assume it’s for gay people or it’s for lesbian people or bisexual or transgender individuals. They don’t think it’s something that can be done. But they’re so wrong. I think everybody knows it now. It’s still very much it’s a case of awareness needs to be raised. So I decided my ambassador role would be to stand up quite proudly and be counted. The first change I made was gender neutral toilets in all of the Allianz UK offices. There was an argument. And I think what pushed me even further was a case of, “well why do you need them if you’re a female?” I said, “I’m female and I’ll be using the female toilets, but there are people out there who associate with either gender and we need to make sure that we are including them rather than excluding them. You know, for something as simple as a bathroom facility”. Then with the awareness, as I stated before, there was not really a lot of awareness and I thought I needed to be the one to stand up and be like, “right OK, I’m an open book. Anyone can come to me and ask me any questions”. And I’ll be honest James, they have. Some questions are very much…you would think and class as quite personal. However if someone is asking a question and not being rude, I think it’s wrong to completely disregard that question because they want to learn. They’re not being rude, they’re not being nasty. So I stood up and said, “OK, I’m an open book for the entire of Allianz insurance. You can ask me questions on being transgender”. And in doing that, it’s raised awareness and it’s also…I mean two other people have came out as transgender at Allianz since I came out as the ambassador. I’m not saying that’s because of me, but I think that’s what ambassadors are for. And I think that’s why the role is so vital to me, because I’ll take it as a compliment that those two people felt stronger to come out. So for the future generation, my name will be in lights or, you know, somewhere in the history that I changed something along the way. And I think anybody who is a human, let alone a transgender individual wants to make a difference or make it better for the next generation.
JM: Well, I’m just going to bring it back to you again for a moment. It’s currently February 2021. We, in the UK, we have been in lockdown for nearly a year. How has being in lockdown affected your transition? And do you think it will have a wider impact on D&I and visibility in general?
SMM: 100%. I think, I mean me personally, it was quite difficult because I came out in the pandemic. So it’s kind of like, “we’re in lockdown! Oh you know, Scarlet’s transgender!” It was kind of like battling some negative news that I originally thought would only last a couple of weeks. I then couldn’t have medical treatment. I was on my medication, but I couldn’t have my laser treatment. I couldn’t have consultations. I couldn’t do the simple things. So you come out as a female and you’ve not been a female for so long. And you’ve been in hiding - I’ll be honest, it was in hiding – and then you can’t go and get a bra fitted. It sounds ridiculous, but to a woman that is something quite personal. You know, you can’t go and get your hair done at a hairdressers and get extensions. You can’t do the things that you class individually as a female should do. So it did have an impact because I felt…I felt I was playing ‘dress-up’. I think that’s the way I can describe it. I felt like I had all the clothes, all the make-up. However, I wasn’t living how I wanted to live as a female, and that was quite difficult for me, along with the social side of things as well. Which is where it kind of bleeds into, I suppose, the D&I initiatives. D&I initiatives are about being visual. You can’t have a D&I initiative where it’s a picture that you are looking at, and expect that picture to have the same impact as someone speaking or seeing someone in front of you. So to begin with, I think it really did have an impact. So the Pride months were not celebrated the way they should have been celebrated. History months. We had the incredible, you know the movement…it was horrible but the Black Lives Matter, you know there were so many huge things that have happened and it wasn’t able, still powerful of course, any movement is powerful. But it wasn’t able to be as powerful because it wasn’t as visual, and I think that’s what the pandemic has done. It kind of shadowed everything and it put a sheet of snow over things. So you kind of couldn’t really break through. Whereas I think now people are starting to click on more virtually, so I think people have adapted. And virtually now people are more willing to go on camera and speak and make live videos. And I think that’s where the entire industry is now going to change because I do think now people are saying it’s so much easier to see someone virtually than it is now physically. So I think that when we come out of the pandemic it’s going to be another twist where people are going to have to get used to seeing people’s faces and interacting again socially. So I do think there has been an impact. But I also think we’ve learned a lot.
JM: Right, well enough of the past. What’s next for you? what are you hopes for the upcoming year?
SMM: Stardom. Riches. Fortune. I think really, really truly and honestly is living authentically. The very small simple things that I want to do. I ant to go and get my nails done. You know, that’s the first thing I’m going to do, I’m going and getting my nails done. The next thing is making more of a difference. There’s so many more things that we need to do and being sat at home and being able to read things, you kind of fester with that. Which is fantastic, but it gives you so much passion and fire, and all you’re sat doing is burning. That’s the thing. You really want to get out there and you really want to show the world this is who I am and I’m very proud. I know the future holds some talks for me. I know I’m gonna be going into a couple of schools, which is amazing. I’m actually going into my old school, where it sounds awful, I was terribly bullied. But I was bullied for being a gay male. And that’s not being sad about it, because I think everyone’s got a journey. So to be able to stand there as a trans female and give a talk, the fact that the school’s allowing that, is amazing. And I think that’s where I’m going, I’m going to France, I’m going to Australia, to India, to open up the Allianz UK Pride network connection. So we’re really going to spread that message of what we’re doing with Pride at the moment and hopefully see and work with other companies.
JM: That sounds really exciting and really positive.
SMM: Long flights!
JM: Well it’s been an absolute privilege speaking to you today Scarlet Marie and I just want to thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your journey so far with us. And I really hope that our members learn something and find it valuable. I’m sure they will.
SMM: I’m hoping so as well. But thankyou James for the opportunity. It really has been amazing.
JM: And we’ll look out to see what happens next for you. Good things
SMM: Definitely. Name in lights! Look for it, Scarlet Marie!
JM: Alright, thankyou very much.
SMM: Take care. Thankyou James.
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