March 13, 2018
Head of Communications
1. Please introduce yourself, the role you currently hold and the size/structure of what you oversee
Hi, I am Reena Vivek and I am the Chief Operating Officer for Zurich International. Zurich International is part of the Zurich Insurance Group and is based in the Isle of Man, with branches in several countries. We offer Retail and Corporate Life Insurance and Savings solutions in the markets that we operate in, and I am responsible for teams based in the Isle of Man, Middle East, Europe and Far East.
I am based in Dubai, and in my 20 year long career I have worked in several markets including India, Europe and the Middle East. I have been in Dubai for 9 years now and I really enjoy the multi-cultural environment and the opportunity to interact with people from so many different parts of the world!
2. What measures does your company have in place to help with gender balance/D&I in the region?
In Zurich, we consider our people as our most important asset, and recognise that the way to be at our best is to empower diverse talent, benefit from different perspectives and ideas that mirror our customers. For us, this isn’t just a nice to have, it is a business imperative.
Diversity and Inclusion for us starts from the top and permeates throughout the organisation. Our D&I strategy is set and governed through our Group Diversity & Inclusion team. Country specific initiatives are then delivered through business leaders, employees and human resources teams and the focus is on integrating D&I into our everyday practices.
We have D&I Champions and regular country level forums that build awareness and understanding, and these champions have access to the wider global D&I network to share best practices and leverage internal pockets of excellence.
3. Tell us a bit about WIN and what prompted you to start it at Zurich
The Zurich Women’s Innovation Network (WIN) is part of Zurich’s D&I initiative. WIN comprises a global group of Zurich employees, both female and male, across all organizational levels and regions, who advocate a ‘level playing field’ for employees to contribute their best at work.
Simply put, the objective of WIN is to build a better workplace – one that rewards merit and accomplishment above all else, regardless of gender.
WIN began as a networking organisation – connecting women across the group to exchange and learn from each other. Today WIN is a network with over 6000 members in 23 countries that is successfully bringing the topic of gender diversity to the table through events and actions. The Middle East chapter of WIN was established in 2016 and has since worked on several initiatives that focus on Cultural change, Career Development, Networking and Communication.
As the sponsor for WIN in the Middle East, I am very pleased to see the impact some of these initiatives have had on our employees and our business as a whole.
4. What successes have your policies prompted? Is there a case study you can outline?
We have successfully implemented several policies that have contributed to making our workplace a better place. We have created mentoring programmes, improved our maternity/paternity policies, and embedded FlexWork. By implementing FlexWork,Zurich empowers its employees to optimise where, when and how they work with maximum flexibility and minimum constraints to improve performance and productivity.
We are very proud of our mentoring programme where we give equal opportunities to all our employees. We facilitate this programme to contribute to their learning, development and career growth.
5. Case studies on how Flex work has benefited some of our Zurich employee
“I was completing my masters and working full-time simultaneously. It was time for me to submit my dissertation by the end of August and I really needed to be time efficient, so I spoke to my manager and requested to work from home for five days. I was very grateful that she was open to this arrangement as it benefitted me a lot. Not only I was in control of my own schedule but I was very productive not only with my job activities but also in progressing with my piece of research.
I personally think that FlexWork is great and we are very lucky to have implemented such a programme in Zurich. I would definitely recommend FlexWork to anyone especially in situations when individuals need to balance their work with personal life.
I also believe that is a great way for the business to reduce cost, boost loyalty and performance among employees.”
Maria Mataj, Business Change
”We have nine staff from our team of 18 using FlexWork. Two of the team work remotely and come in to office once or twice a week. The rest of us use FlexWorkby either starting early at 7am or working late until 9 am or later, depending on our individual needs.
For the business this allows extended processing hours from 7 am to 6 pm and is particularly helpful when we are required to pick up urgent tasks that arrive during the latter part of the day.
More importantly, we have happier people who are more productive as they are able to balance both their work and personal life.”
Underwriting & Benefit Claims Team
“FlexWork has enabled me to balance work and family life. I feel more energetic and productive. When I work from home, I save almost two hours of travel every day. I am able to meet the business needs by putting in extra hours or at flexible time when required, without the stress of having to worry about how I will commute back home after work, as I do not drive.”
Ingrid D'Silva, Underwriting
“I have benefitted very well from FlexWork, especially with a little one at home. FlexWorkgives me the satisfaction of balancing work and home and I am glad that I get to spend enough time with my little one. I have been working from 7 am- 4pm on a daily basis and am also able to adjust my work timing if needs be.”
Seema Akhil, Underwriting
6. What is the representation of women like at senior levels in your team and how do you encourage retention/post-maternity return?
I am very pleased to say that 42% of our total workforce are women and within my senior management team, 47% are women.
We have always had people-focused HR policies in place, and the WIN team engages with our workforce on a regular basis to collate feedback on these policies and suggest improvements. Based on one such recommendation, Zurich has recently enhanced the Maternity and Paternity Leave policies. The changes included an increase to the total Maternity leave entitlement to 205 calendar days, addition of two nursing breaks post-maternity return and providing staff access to our FlexWork program.
There were additional soft benefits including access to car park during pregnancy for employees who are not eligible for car park, provision of stroller and lighter weight office equipment (laptops etc.).
7. How advanced is Zurich in its policies in this region in comparison to other regions globally?
The Middle East region operates under a Group governance model and policy framework. However, we localise our policies to meet the local regulatory requirements, market and employee needs. Our policies in the Middle East are tailored to meet the unique diverse nature of this market and focused on encouraging a high employee engagement. The success of this is demonstrated through the Organisational Health Index scores that we achieve in the region – which is amongst the highest within the Zurich Group and our industry peers.
8. Why is D&I important to you/your company right now?
Engaged and motivated employees are fundamental to the success of any organisation, and we strongly believe that creating an inclusive workplace where employees of all backgrounds are treated equally and can contribute fully will help us achieve our goal and vision.
9. And finally, is there more you’d like to do/bring to the conversation?
It is my personal belief that embedding diversity and inclusion into an organisations DNA is something that requires commitment and focus from the management and I am personally very pleased with the achievements of the Zurich WIN team in this area. That said, I do believe there is a need to look at the wider insurance industry and consider actions to improve the gender balance, especially in management and senior management roles.