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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

How well are you representing your 100,000? 

With some 70,000 qualified actuaries (from the IFoA and other associations) and a global population of more than 7 billion, there is one actuary per 100,000 people, compared to one lawyer and one accountant per 1,400 people. So how representative are we of the global population?



The Diversity Advisory Group (DAG) is an IFoA member interest group committed to supporting the IFoA in developing, delivering and evolving its strategic diversity objectives, as set out in its Diversity Strategy and Diversity Action Plan. Earlier this year, the IFoA, on behalf of the DAG, issued a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) survey through the IFoA’s online members’ feedback group the 400 Club, with over 90% responding. Many responses were positive about the progress of the IFoA, and DAG, on D&I in recent years. However, the survey highlighted a number of areas that would benefit from further improvement. These were:

More than just gender

As a member interest group, our activities and discussions have started to shift gear in this regard to consider diversity of thought, images and role models, and outreach. There has been some focus on race, geographic diversity, social mobility, and ‘diversity of thought’. Our next priority is to increase our focus on disability and LGBT matters. This is work in progress. 

Gender still needs attention

The perception and experience of the actuarial profession remains male and middle class-dominated; attention, therefore, still needs to focus on this area. DAG agrees, and we want to look further at the issues of female retention and progression across actuarial employers

Some members have observed that females leave actuarial employment earlier than men and there is a need to support members returning to work after a career break.

Specific IFoA initiatives to help with this, such as the Actuarial Mentoring Programme, are already under way. We plan to explore whether there are further IFoA initiatives that could help support members and their employers in addressing this issue further. For example, the IFoA has launched a programme for women and men to be partnered with an advisor when returning to work. 

The IFoA has also been working to make sure its activities and services can be accessed in ways that are more responsive to the needs of our diverse membership. This includes making content easy to access and available online, both as live-streamed events and available on ‘catch up’  – such as the IFoA’s first Data Science virtual conference held this year with more than 3,000 registering for the event from over 74 countries.

Schools engagement; socio-economic inclusion

Many responders indicated that they would like the IFoA to do more with schools to encourage diverse future generations of actuaries. There was also a desire for this to be targeted at disadvantaged areas and to consider ways in which the IFoA, or members of the IFoA and their employers, may be able to help students from non-traditional backgrounds to pursue a career in actuarial science. The DAG will give this thought, building on the work already undertaken by the IFoA’s careers team. 

The ‘Girls – Count Us In’ STEM events, designed to appeal to girls interested in pursuing a career in STEM and therefore potentially a career in actuarial science, are examples of good activites already under way during the past year.

Employer engagement

Some respondents would like to see the benefits of D&I promoted more strongly by their employers. DAG will consider how the IFoA can support members’ employers. One example: the IFoA recently facilitated a panel discussion for CPD co-ordinators. This focused on practical implementation of D&I management to enable them to embed such knowledge with their employers. This is now available to all our members and their employers on ‘catch up’ on the IFoA website. DAG will explore what we can do to support employers further, and we are keen to hear your thoughts and suggestions on what role we can play.

Role models

Although many of you noted the greater emphasis and promotion of role models in recent years, it was also noted that the IFoA could do more to inspire a higher proportion of individuals. Many of you would like greater focus on disability, age, mental health, LGBT and religion, as well as diversity of experience.

Representing and fulfilling the public interest

DAG acknowledges that key aims of diversity and inclusion include fair treatment of all and achieving optimal outcomes through diversity of thought. Under its Royal Charter, the IFoA has a duty to work in the public interest. Survey responses highlighted a desire among members to do more to boost the ‘average’ level of financial understanding in the public. To DAG, this also means ensuring our actuarial work is accessible to the general public and that they understand the issues. DAG believes that if actuaries are more representative of the public, we are more likely to succeed in this. DAG looks forward to discussing this further.

As a member interest group, the DAG seeks to promote and explore these issues through a number of work-streams and through engagement with IFoA members and their employers and external contacts.

The DAG has already written or sponsored articles in The Actuary magazine, as well as a number of blogs and articles on social media, the IFoA website and in newsletters. DAG has also recently established a LinkedIn presence. Look out for more articles, events and discussions later in the year to continue this debate. In the meantime, we encourage more members to join the conversation and share their thoughts. 

The Diversity Advisory Group

Working on behalf of the IFoA for a more diverse and inclusive actuarial community.

Do you follow the DAG on LinkedIn If not, please do!

You can also connect with the DAG chair, Chika Aghadiuno, on LinkedIn and help us to shift the dial and in doing so raise our visibility.