In 2016, under the leadership of the then immediate past president Nick Salter, the IFoA published a four-year diversity strategy: a thoughtful and informed plan to promote recognition, understanding and respect of our members’, volunteers’ and colleagues’ individual differences.
With that strategy helping to shape our future direction, the IFoA has gone on to grow its international membership, and now has a near-even split of UK and international members. We have a diverse Council, with 41% female membership – our highest ratio ever – and our presidential team has had strong international and female representation, including African and Asian presidents and three women presidents during the past 10 years. We have implemented, and won awards for, our ‘Girls – Count Us In’ campaign, designed to showcase the actuarial profession to women. Even with these (and other) powerful examples of change, we recognise that there is still more to do in an environment in which standards and expectations of all of us continue to evolve.
When that diversity strategy was created in 2016, even the most prescient among us could not have predicted that the past four years, let alone the past four months, would have unfolded as they have. The global COVID-19 pandemic, the unrest surrounding events of racial injustice, and the ripple effect that both of these will have on our economies, workplaces and communities in the years to come cannot be underestimated. As we continue to look outwards and make choices to sustain and strengthen the IFoA in these difficult times, we must also look inwards, re-examining the IFoA’s purpose, values and desired culture. Central to this must be an inclusive and equal member experience.
We condemn all forms of discrimination and prejudice in society: it has no place within our profession. We have taken on board that many of our members believe we have the opportunity – and responsibility – to do more to amplify and support diverse voices as we seek to reposition the profession and transform the IFoA. We must do this with purpose, and have been reflecting and consulting widely regarding the outcomes we want to achieve and the best way of achieving them. We cannot fully protect our members from factors outside our control, but we do want them to feel supported and part of a profession that promotes the value of diversity and the importance of showing respect for each other – not just because the Actuaries’ Code says so, but because it is a fundamental human right and a critical requirement for a sustainable world. Work is already underway in support of these plans, and during the next few months we will, together with our elected leadership, our Diversity Advisory Group and our colleagues, publish a refreshed diversity, equality and inclusion strategy.
We will continue to listen and learn about these complex issues, and seek to understand what is important to our members, volunteers and colleagues in this regard and in many others.
One way we can continue to strengthen the member experience is for you to take part in our member survey, which is open until 20 November. We want to continue to hear from you so that we may continue to take meaningful action, informed by your views.
We are grateful to you, our members and readers, as you continue to contribute to this conversation and demonstrate a willingness to listen and learn along with us. We have important work to do to ensure the IFoA is representative and inclusive of the communities in which we are based and which we serve.
Stephen Mann is the chief executive of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Tan Suee Chieh is the president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries