IAG’s Inclusion Insurance: a little HELP for inclusion

Wed 15 September 2021

Purple circle with letters IAG written inside.

The most important lesson is that inclusion is a journey.” – Joann Lewis, IAG.

In 2016, Insurance Australia Group (IAG) started on their journey toward disability inclusion and confidence, by first participating in AND’s High Growth Jobs, Talented Candidates project. The following year, IAG became AND’s 200th member. A silver member of AND, IAG participated in the Access and Inclusion Index for the first time that same year. The results were surprising.  

“We were placed 22nd out of 28 participants,” says Joann Lewis, Executive General Manager at IAG, speaking at AND’s National PACE Closing event. While the results were not exactly what the organisation had hoped for, it encouraged a drive and motivation to work towards inclusion.

But while they were driven and motivated, IAG admits that there was a lack of knowledge and awareness around disability inclusion.  

“Thankfully AND has been there to guide us through this,” says Joann. One early conversation IAG had with AND around accessibility was at a technology offsite. The organisation tracked what they had done to support inclusion and accessibility and identified areas of opportunity to continue to build that support for inclusion and accessibility.  

“Our first step when putting together a talk about accessibility was to make sure that our only senior leader in a wheelchair was there. This was important as it meant that we had a person with lived experience in the conversation. However, it was only what we could see at that time. We could see a person in a wheelchair.”

What IAG could not see at that time were the diverse range of disability – some visible, some invisible – that could be present throughout their organisation.

Working closely alongside AND, the organisation slowly built up their disability understanding and awareness. IAG now has an accessibility employee network, dedicated solely on raising awareness throughout the organisation.

The organisation also created an “Accessibility Working Group”, which is focused on driving change throughout the organisation for both employees and customers.

Joann sits on the “Accessibility Advisory Board” that focuses on ensuring the strategic framework and senior leadership support exists to make certain that accessibility and inclusion is embedded in every corner of the organisation.

More than that, they have reviewed our major digital platforms and are in the process of implementing changes to make these more accessible for people with physical and neurological disability.

The organisation has also recently released values and behaviours – which highlight their belief in inclusion, their dedication towards removing barriers, their journey towards removing barriers, striving for equity and embracing diversity.

Doing the groundwork over the course of the four years has allowed IAG to make significant progress towards embedding accessibility as part of their business-as-usual.  

“We are working towards a position where we don’t think of accessibility as an afterthought. We don’t design a new product and think about how we make it accessible after we’ve built it.”

Similarly, IAG’s we are uplifting our employment practices to ensure they are accessible and use inclusive language – right from recruitment, onboarding and beyond.

The organisation has now also participated in three rounds of PACE over the past three years. Participating in the program has provided ideas and new opportunities for IAG, but also reassured the organisation that disability awareness and confidence is growing throughout the organisation. Together with the AND Stepping Into program, IAG credits the PACE program as critical to the momentum they have built in relation to both accessibility and disability confidence at IAG.

“On IAG’s accessibility journey, we have learnt a lot. The first critical lesson is if in doubt  - ask the person. Almost everyone is trying their best - they might not get it right, as they are looking through the only lens they have known, however they are trying.  Inclusion is important for all of us. And as a corporate, you need senior leaders to drive the change, it can’t all be driven by the people who are building the groundswell.”

“The most important lesson we learnt is inclusion is a journey. You can’t do everything at once, but we are starting to drive change step by step.”

And though they have come a long way from where they were four years ago, IAG know they are still on their journey.

“We will continue to be guided by AND’s advice which has helped us make the great progress to date.”

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