Allies and advocates form a central part of realistically building equal and equitable workplaces.
Being an Ally is not just about evangelising the need for diversity and inclusion (D&I) — it requires action to see results. It is for this reason, among many, why Greg Case, chief executive of Aon (AON), was crowned the number one executive in D&I membership organisation INvolve’s OUTstanding Top 50 LGBT+ Ally Executives in 2020 list, supported by Yahoo Finance.
Insurance giant Aon has 50,000 staff across 120 countries. Under Case’s leadership, the company has achieved myriad recognition for being a great place to work. For example:
Aon has been ranked on the Financial Times’ annual Diversity Leaders list for the two years in a row;
the company was named in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity Stonewall’s 2020 Top 100 Employers list;
and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index named Aon as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBT+ Equality, with the highest score for the 13th consecutive year.
During Case’s tenure, Aon has applied anti-discrimination policies, offered inclusive benefits for LGBT+ colleagues and supported business resource groups’ LGBT+ inclusion initiatives. These range from inclusive benefits for same-sex domestic partners and those who identify as transgender to enforced anti-discrimination policies.
Harvard Business Review put Case on its list of Best-Performing CEOs in the World in 2019. He’s also the sponsor for the Global Inclusive Leadership Council (GILC) and Global Pride Alliance leadership champion
Yahoo Finance spoke to Case after he topped the INvolve OUTstanding Top 50 LGBT+ Ally Executives 2020 list. He told us why now, more than ever, allies need to step up.
How does it feel to be the winner of the executive list and what does being an Ally role model mean to you?
GREG CASE: I’m humbled to be named among these great Allies. Each day I am inspired by the work of our LGBT+ Aon colleagues and Allies who take meaningful actions to demonstrate that leading inclusively is at the core of our culture and integral to the way we operate our firm. My passion in this area is fueled by the inspirational work of our colleagues and I’m honored to represent Aon on this list.
To me, being an Ally role model means constantly improving and empowering others to do the same. We take an active role with our partners and other organizations to raise awareness for the business case for diverse and inclusive workplaces. Through these partnerships, we can both take away practical ideas and inspiration for how to bring about positive change by creating new opportunities for sharing best practices.
Was there ever a lightbulb moment for embedding D&I into your job and sphere of influence?
GC: I have long been passionate about supporting LGBT+ equality, and equality across all areas. Making inclusion and diversity a part of everything we do not only makes sense from a business perspective, but from a human one. Everyone should be able to bring their authentic self to the workplace.
That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about our global sponsorship of events like the recent Dive In Festival, which supports diversity and inclusion in insurance and this year saw 30,000 attendees across 35 countries. Our firm is committed to fostering a workplace that supports and empowers people of all backgrounds. Together, we hold ourselves accountable to ensuring Aon is a place where all colleagues experience equal access and opportunity.
And we’re making great progress. For 13 consecutive years, we’ve received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which is a benchmarking tool for measuring policies, practices and benefits available to LGBT+ employees. We were also named a Stonewall Top 100 Employer 2020. We’re really proud of that.
Why is D&I so important to the company you lead and do you bring customers as well as employees along with you?
GC: I regularly share within and outside our firm how inclusion and diversity is a powerful force and key business imperative.
It’s central to bringing in diverse perspectives needed to best serve our clients, attract and retain the best talent and demonstrate responsible leadership. Fresh views and new perspectives are invaluable to our business and enable improved innovation. That’s why we’re so committed as a firm to supplier diversity through Aon Diversity Solutions. We want to ensure diverse engagement, which ultimately creates long-term value for our clients.
Within our firm, we’ve adopted a multi-faceted approach to raising awareness and creating a supportive, open and inclusive working environment for LGBT+ colleagues. For example, with nearly all our colleagues working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was the first year we held global Pride celebrations with a few thousand LGBTQ+ colleagues and Allies joining a series of virtual events. We also strive to support and drive improved inclusion outside of the walls of Aon in our communities.
What would be the first advice you’d give to other executives on how to do more to embed D&I into their organisations?
GC: The first step to any meaningful change is open and honest communication. For example, at Aon, we spend time actively listening to the different perspectives of colleagues, experts and many other voices. We’ve learned so much. And from those insights, we’ve considered new opportunities for reinforcing our commitment with meaningful actions that reflect our values.
As an executive, what does success look like to you and how do you measure this?
GC: At Aon, we are constantly advancing our inclusion and diversity priorities. Success means not standing still. We want to make sure everyone at Aon feels a sense of belonging, and [feels] respected and valued for who they are. We want to foster a work environment where all colleagues are free to do their best work, so everyone can contribute fully to Aon's success. We regularly seek feedback from our colleagues and review our progress so we can continuously improve.
How do you influence your executive team to take action on D&I and not leave it up to the people team?
GC: Inclusion and diversity must be a goal across the firm. In 2020, Aon formed the Global Inclusive Leadership Council, to provide advice, recommendations and accountability for our firm’s inclusion and diversity strategy and related actions. This group brings together 21 colleagues with a diverse array of backgrounds and experiences.
All our top leaders are accountable for taking actions in support of inclusion and diversity goals and initiatives. Many of our leaders provide mentorship and sponsorship to diverse colleagues to help advance the careers of high-potential individuals. We have also signed several pledges to reinforce Aon’s commitment and accountability to inclusion and diversity.
How has 2020 shaped your future leadership and company strategy?
GC: 2020 has presented unprecedented challenges and opportunities. We know an inclusive culture drives diversity, which makes us a better, stronger company. And 2020 has shown that more than ever.
As we head into the new year, we will continue to value the diversity of ideas, experiences and perspectives, which is critical to our Aon United culture and to our success in serving our clients and providing opportunities for our colleagues. And we will continue to celebrate our colleagues, the diversity they bring and the progress we make together.
For example, we plan to recognize key themes such as Intersectionality and Allyship on a monthly basis next year, with a series of events and communications.
We also recently expanded our apprenticeship program, furthering our commitment to attracting diverse talent from different backgrounds. We will continue to take additional actions to make our company better for all colleagues, clients, and communities.
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