A first for the Netherlands: Dive In Festival highlights diversity and inclusiveness in the insurance sector

Wednesday, 03 October 2018

The internationally renowned Dive In Festival arrived in the Netherlands for the first time last week. The initiators of the event this were Marguerite Soeteman-Reijnen and Bianca Tetteroo, Board members from Aon and Achmea respectively.

The Dive In Festival promotes diversity and inclusiveness in the insurance sector. It is a global event and 2018 is the fourth year in a row that the Festival has taken place. This year events took place around the world between 25 and 27 September with the theme of this year’s Festival being 'time4inclusion'.

The main event for the Netherlands took place at the Achmea Convention Centre at Achmea’s head office in Zeist on Tuesday 25 September. Achmea is a cooperative insurer and a member of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF). Achmea was one of the organisers of the Netherlands event alongside Aon, Aegon and NN.

Keynote speakers were Merel van Vroonhoven, Chair of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and Sander van 't Noordende, Group Chief Executive of Accenture's Products Operating Group. The day’s agenda was moderated by economist and journalist Marcia Luyten whose work includes presenting the influential political interview programme “Buitenhof” on Dutch national television.

On 25 September, leaders from across the Dutch insurance sector came together to discuss how the sector can and should address an ever-changing society. Key topics included: the leadership needed in a rapidly changing society in which innovation is a must. "We need everyone, talent is scarce and a broad view is essential to attract and retain the talent," said one of the speakers.

Speakers shed light on questions such as: What skills and capacities are needed in this rapidly changing world? How important is innovation for our sector? What is the art of inclusive leadership? And how do we make diversity and inclusiveness part of our corporate culture?

The day’s agenda included an opening speech by Inga Beale, CEO, Lloyd's of London, (by video link) and a welcome speech given by Willem van Duin, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board, Achmea. Merel van Vroonhoven and Sander van 't Noordeinde gave keynote speeches. There were panel discussions and workshops which addressed: Blockchain B31 (led by Erwin Kersten and Ewoud Bom, both Achmea); artificial intelligence (NN Group); financial independence (Aegon); and Cyber ​​(Maarten van Wieren, Aon).

Last year the Dive In Festival attracted more than 7,000 people in 17 countries and 32 cities around the world. The driving force behind the Dive In Festivals is Inga Beale. With her commitment and vision, she has ensured that the subject of diversity and inclusion remains high on the insurance industry's agenda.

In his welcome speech, Willem van Duin welcomed the fact that the Dutch insurance sector had come together to discuss how the sector can and should deal with the changes in society. He told delegates that the Dutch insurance sector and Achmea both stand for an inclusive society saying that solidarity is an important pillar of our sector and a great asset. He acknowledged, however, that the world around us is changing at lightning speed and that it was key to have leadership which could keep up with the pace of change and innovation saying: “We need everyone, talent is scarce and a broad view is essential to attract and retain the good talent”.

Van Duin thanked Inga Beale for ensuring that the subject of inclusivity remains high on the sector’s agenda and praised the efforts of Marguerite Soeteman-Reijnen and Bianca Tetteroo in bringing the Dive-In Festival to the Netherlands for the first time.

Van Duin told delegates that “As insurers we are service providers which assist our customers at those moments that matter most in life. We help them in areas such as their work, income, security, pensions and damage. This requires us to have a changing view of the world, of our business strategies and of our customer solutions. A view from different perspectives and various teams. Also our customers are diverse, with changing needs and we have to work hard to keep up with them.

“Here at Achmea we embrace diversity and inclusion, so as to fully embrace the talents of our colleagues to blossom and become a better organization,” he concluded.

In recent years Achmea has mainly focused on gender diversity but since 2018 the organisation has broadened its focus to include cultural diversity too saying that this is a fair and smart thing to do. Fair, because Achmea is keen to an employer for everyone, giving everyone the space to be themselves. And, smart, because leaders at Achmea believes that cultural diversity strengthens an organization and can provide more creativity and innovation, better customer service and a maximum talent pool from which you can fish.

In short, Van Duin said, Achmea is doing everything it can to be diverse and inclusive, saying that the first steps had been taken but he acknowledged that “we are not there yet” and that there was still progress to be made. He spoke of a long and ongoing process, in which there will be a lot of learning, but affirmed Achmea’s commitment and conviction to diversity and inclusion as necessary conditions for the organisation’s future as a successful and customer-oriented insurer.

Van Duin thanked his team at Achmea and the other insurers Aon, Aegon and NN for their help in organising the first-ever Dive In Festival event in the Netherlands and called on other parties to join forces next year and take on the baton of organising the event in order to ensure the continuity of this worldwide initiative in the Netherlands.

Photo shows: From left to right: Bianca Tetteroo (Achmea), Sander van 't Noordende (Accenture), Willem van Duin (Achmea) and Marguerite Soeteman-Reijnen (Aon)