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Aviva Pride: amazing, supportive and hopeful

David, Jenny and Jason share their stories of what Aviva's Pride community is all about, why it’s so important, and what it means to them.

Pride flag flying at a Pride parade
Pride flag flying at a Pride parade

June is Pride Month, and we wanted to take the opportunity to talk to three of our colleagues from around the world who are involved in Aviva Pride in some way.

We spoke to David, a graduate apprentice in Aviva UK and a member of Aviva Pride, about why this community is so important to him personally, and why “bringing your whole self to work” is key.

We spoke to Jenny, a team leader in Aviva Ireland’s Life contact centre and co-chair of Aviva Pride in Ireland. Jenny shares why she gives so much of her time to help make Pride the best it can be – and why she “love, love, loves the role”.

Jenny, co-chair of Aviva Pride in Ireland
Jenny, co-chair of Aviva Pride in Ireland

Finally, we spoke to Jason, CEO of Aviva Canada and one of our executive sponsors of Pride. Find out why Pride means so much to Jason, and why he feels like he needs to lead by example.

David, Aviva Pride member, and Jason Storah, CEO of Aviva Canada and executive sponsor of Aviva Pride
David, Aviva Pride member, and Jason, CEO of Aviva Canada and executive sponsor of Aviva Pride

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"... the majority of our week is spent in work, so we need to be happy here. We need to be safe here. We need to be included here."

Jenny

Co-chair of Aviva Pride in Ireland

David:

We should never assume that everything is going to be OK. Because if we're not visible, if we're not loud and proud about our identities and our community, rights will start to degrade.

Jenny:

That's the purpose. It's not just about work. It's about life.

Jason:

Acknowledging that I'm different and I don't have the same life experiences, haven't had the same experiences growing up as other people, but trying to understand that, I think makes me and this company better.

Sam:

Hello and welcome to the Aviva podcast. If you work for Aviva, it's really good to have you here. If you don't work for Aviva, well, you're more than welcome too. We're pretty inclusive like that.

Some would say that that's a fairly contrived opening line to let me segue into saying that this episode is all about inclusion.

Those people would be correct.

This episode is all about inclusion.

So you might have caught our last episode, at the start of June. It was Carers Week and we were catching up with a few of our Carers community members just before their busiest time of the year to get the scoop on what it's all about.

Well, it's Pride Month right now, as I'm recording this, and that means it's obviously an ideal time to crash the diaries of Aviva Pride during their busiest time of the year.

Yeah now I think about it, we should have recorded this in May, really. Sorry, Pride.

But thankfully, David, Jenny and Jason, the three Pride people that we wanted to spend some time with, were much kinder and more patient than I would have been and they agreed to sit down with us virtually from Scotland, Ireland and Canada. To fill us in on what the Pride community is all about in Aviva.

David:

So my name is David Scott, and I work for Aviva, and my pronouns are he him. I work in the tech platforms as an IT graduate apprentice.

Sam:

Would you mind sharing a little bit about what brought you to the Pride community?

David:

I think I was drawn to the community by the fact that I wanted to be more myself at work, especially when it's so important that you bring that kind of whole self and also be able to be as productive as you can, because sometimes that energy can be wasted on hiding your unique identity.

It can be quite daunting having to, as a gay man, having to come out in the workplace.

So I can actually enable others to feel like they can do that around me.

So I think it's about being a visible ally to others in the LGBTQ+ community, but also thinking about myself and how I can bring my whole self to work.

Sam:

And so how does the community work? What do you what do you do in Aviva Pride?

David:

My particular role within Aviva pride is the role model and allies lead that involves how we can educate more senior leaders.

A lot of these things actually stems from our kind of educational event.

So just now with Pride Month we’re organising around six internal events ranging from different partner organisations from the Alex Higgins trust, right to Stonewall, Bi Pride, HSBC, which is one of our voice of our customer sessions.

So how we can actually engage with those different partners and how we can bring to life some of those stories is enabling us to kind of educate our senior leaders on how they can be more conscious and how they actually can use their position to impact and influence others.

Because again, it goes back to my earlier point that it's really important that you bring your whole self to work.

I think Pride’s role also plays and how we can actually enable our kind of customer journeys to be more inclusive. That includes a whole range of things, but how we can do that and how we can actually kind of commit to our own Aviva values by making our customer journeys more inclusive to everyone and in particular LGBTQ+ community, that is going to enable us to to really focus on that kind of customer aspect of our strategy.

I would also say prides role in that is actually being there for our network. Where we're there to support our network in a whole range of things.

And of course, we're doing this kind of voluntarily on top of our day job but I think for me it's… it feels so natural to be doing the additional responsibilities and roles that I do on top of that day job with Pride, because it actually gives me a real sense of purpose that I know that I'm making a difference to make our culture more inclusive and to really give, again, more confidence to people to be themselves at work.

Sam:

Is there anything in particular that stands out as a time that you were glad to be part of the community? Like has Aviva Pride helped you in some way, or have you helped other members of Aviva Pride?

David:

What stands out to me is the fact that we stand together as a community and we respect and see those who are facing tough times.

I think in particular, we have to be there for each other. Because if we're there as one community, we can really make more of a powerful impact.

Sam:

On that note, do you have a message to other people who might identify with Pride, who are out there but aren't involved in the community?

David:

I would say to anybody who wants to get involved in pride or doesn't know much about our community…. When I was like an 18 year old of apprentice I wasn't comfortable with my identity at work, because I had previous experiences where at my previous workplace where it really it really put me off bringing my whole self to work.

But I think looking now three years on and how I look at my career now, my career has taken off. I've seen a real difference in that two years when I have come out, when I've been more involved in the community because I've been able to focus on myself and actually use my identity as something that just part of me. It’s what you get when you have me in your team, when you want me as part of your organisation.

I think that's key because that gave me that confidence to really be myself work. And when I hear stories of people who may be kind of emerging in positions like graduates, apprentices, and they don't feel like they can be themselves it kind of… so it's a drawing back all those emotions of the coming out process which is emotionally draining, especially when it's your kind of job to come out to your family. But it's actually the same in the workplace because you're having to come out multiple times.

People might be assuming that your partner's gender and you're having to then explain but actually now about how I can actually educate them, and kind of call it as such, because we shouldn't assume one's identity when we're speaking to someone, we should just not make those assumptions initially.

But yeah, I would say to anyone who wants to get involved, educate yourself on issues

facing LGBTQ+ people, it's really important at that point you understand why pride is still important. Because it's still important today.

We should never take rights for granted. Rights can change, and we should never assume that everything is going to be OK.

Because if we're not visible, if we're not loud and proud about our identities, and our community rights will start to degrade.

Sam:

Is there anything that you think Aviva does particularly well right now in supporting you and the other members of the community?

David:

I think they've supported me by helping me through my apprenticeship, giving me opportunities, which has enabled me to now go on to the graduate leadership program, which is an amazing program for anyone who doesn't know much about it.

It's giving you the experience and opportunity to see more of the business and actually gain more skills, and experience which will enable me to be a better future leader.

And I want to be a future leader at Aviva because I know that they invest in my time because they see the potential that I can give to the business.

I think Aviva Prides has ultimately… changed my career.

It's just, again, it's being around likeminded people who understand the kind of challenges that LGBTQ+ people face in the workplace.

Sam:

I mean, I guess there's always room for improvement too. So is there anywhere that you'd like to see that improvement happen?

David:

There's aspects where we always have to make continuous improvements to be, like I said, a more inclusive organisation.

I want Aviva to really grasp the opportunity of being a leader like we are on climate change, for instance, on how we can be a leader of diversity and inclusion in the financial industry, that includes all areas of intersectionality and also being able to focus on recruiting more diverse individuals.

And because if we have more diverse individuals in our organisation, we're going to be more forward thinking. We're going to have better ideas on how we innovate to the future and grow our business.

We should be growing an inclusive business, and it kind of resonates with me a lot that I can play a key role in that. And I think others can too.

We all have a part to play in that.

Sam:

OK, second to last question: what is the one thing that you wish more people understood about Pride?

David:

One thing I wish that people didn't necessarily assume about Pride: It's not all about flag waving and having a party.

It's actually about kind of reflecting where we are with the progress we're making towards LGBTQ+ rights. Because we're not there yet. We're not there yet. We're not there globally with rights across the world, and we're not there with rights in the UK unfortunately. This present moment. Pride means a lot to me as an individual because I think it's about coming together as a community, having the opportunity to educate others on those issues that we know all too well, and also how we can open up that conversation.

I think pride gives that opportunity too, because pride doesn't just stop for me and it doesn't just stop for Aviva Pride because the month of June is over. It actually goes beyond that.

How we can all year round keep continuing hosting events and being visible?

Because if we lose that visibility, like the kind of purpose and cause of why we have pride won't matter. And I think we see too often some organisations playing to that kind of rainbow washing because it's too easy to do that and not actually back it up.

What are you doing to make your customer journeys more inclusive?

What are you doing to make your employees feel more included in the culture?

All of those aspects which actually matter more than colourful flags and actually like recognising why pride exists today.

Sam:

We'll come back to David for a final word at the end of the episode. But for now, let's leave Scotland and hop over the Irish Sea, virtually at least, to talk to Jenny.

Jenny is a co-chair of Aviva Pride in Ireland.

Jenny:

My name is Jenny. I am team leader in Ireland's Life contact centre.

So I'm part of a management team of a group of about 40 agents dealing with customers and brokers daily, which I absolutely love.

I suppose… Yeah, my two biggest roles in life are as a wife and as a mum.

I am married to Aoife, we’re together eight years, married three, and we have a little boy called Rua. He's two.

I am a co-chair in the Ireland Pride community and have been so since January.

I think the committee has been up and running about six or seven years.

I've always been involved, but I just felt that this kind of was my year to commit to a bigger role for various reasons.

I was kind of new to a promotion when the committee was setting off, and then I had my family. So definitely when the conversation came up about co-chairs late last year, it was definitely my time.

Sam:

So what does a co-chair of Aviva Pride do? What kind of stuff does it involve?

Jenny:

Basically, we oversee a small committee of community members, LGBTQ+ community members and allies too, along with our wonderful executive committee sponsors.

So, you know, we do organise monthly get togethers, events, coordinate communications, Yammer posts, which is our internal social media. And then collateral for our intranet page - our pride hub for our colleagues.

You know, we do face to face sessions and then content with the external marketing team for social media. So we kind of coordinate that.

We do have a small committee and obviously we divvy out the tasks, but we kind of oversee all that.

One big thing for me was recruitment. It's a bit of a heavy phrase for what I mean, but getting people involved, and I suppose some people might have felt that if they weren't a member of the LGBTQ+ community, that, you know, they couldn't be involved in the committee.

But we very much want allies and our colleagues involved.

And also the co-chair job is you're kind of the face of the committee, I suppose. I'd be linking in with colleagues who come to us for support, whether it's for themselves or how to be an ally to a colleague, friend or family.

You kind of… you direct them here, I direct them there, to have a conversation with them. I've had some lovely conversations with people that have just got in touch with me one on one.

So yeah, kind of the face of the committee as well.

Lots involved but absolutely love, love the role.

Sam:

Kind of a big question, but what would you say the purpose of the Pride community is? What does the community do and who is it for?

Jenny:

So my first thing on this, I'd say is that it's an LGBTQ+ and an Allies group. So to be honest, there's just as many allies, if not more, in our group than there is members of the community, which I think is really important because that's the balance outside the committee, that's the balance in the company.

It's very much employee led.

So those are the kind of the two things to really point out from the outset.

So really the purpose of it is to support colleagues, to support them to bring their whole selves to work, and to spend energy being themselves - not hiding it.

Because like anything, you're going to get the best out of people if they bring themselves to work no matter what their… you know, if you're talking about sexuality, race, ability, disability, we're always going to get the best out of people, which means we'll get the best for our organisation.

And another big thing as well is to support colleagues to be allies to other colleagues and to people that report to them. You know, we support a lot of leaders in conversations alongside HR.

And then, yeah, just people would say, you know, “my son has come out as gay”, or “my niece has come out as gay”, or transgender, bi or whatever.

So, you know, we provide a lot of support to them, too.

So that's that's the purpose. It's not just about work. It's about life.

Sam:

I mean, given that it's Pride Month, I do feel a bit silly asking this question, but what's keeping you busy at the moment?

Jenny:

We've had a busy couple of months getting prepared for, for this month, so lots going on.

So just yesterday we launched our Allies program. So I think we launched it originally maybe five or six years ago. You know, probably would have done something more formally in the last few years but covid… We really wanted to kind of get a face to face session to have that impact.

So we relaunched that yesterday. It was a lovely afternoon. We had about 150 people attending in total. There was about 50 people in the room in Dublin and it was just… I think it was the first kind of big face to face session we've held in Ireland since the pandemic and all the restrictions have lifted.

So it was just really touching, really emotional, lots of shared personal stories, whether it was about, you know, our families and the difficulties getting their families legally recognised.

And some people shared, you know, difficulties, you know, homophobic slurs or, you know, maybe verbal or physical abuse they would have received in the past… That was really, really touching and kind of what for me was most touching and emotional was the involvement of allies and people’s honesty, and people’s surprised, I suppose - that's the purpose of it all, to educate people and raise awareness.

So that was yesterday. There was a lot of work went in to do that.

Then with the Dublin Pride parades on the 25th of this month, so we are getting together an employee event for that. So obviously with our net zero target... You know in previous years we've been in the parade to the group, we've had an open top bus, and all of that.

We’re very much sticking to our net zero targets. We're going to do a lower key employee event.

We have our lace up with Pride hashtag, lace up with Pride campaign… We work with our external marketing team on it and that supporter and you know, our LGBTQ+ youth charity partner, they're called Belong To, That's been actually launched this afternoon, and there's lots of Irish sports celebs involved in that and some members of the community, some allies telling their story.

And the theme internally and externally in Ireland pride this year is very much allyship.

And we're getting that out into the world by talking about allyship and sports, allyship and teams, and that's where those celebrities come in.

So that's a big campaign that'll be up and running for the rest of the month. And then that culminates with the rainbow laces day.

So as part of that campaign, the hashtag laces with pride, we sell laces to make the rainbow laces to make money for our charity partner, and we all get together and wear laces and we light up the Aviva Stadium, which we sponsor in Dublin, and get lots of great photoshoots.

And, you know, there's a bit of networking, and I think we're going to have a webinar, a panel discussion on the day, which will be fantastic. And then, yeah, just coordinate and lots of internal and external social media posts and, you know, information and awareness, you know, sharing pictures of, of the Allies relaunch event and group events…

Very busy at the moment. I know we have kind of regional offices, we have Cork, Galway as well - their Pride parades are July and August. So looking to do kind of maybe something there this year

Yeah, lots and lots more to come over the summer.

I think July… we might take a little bit of a break in July after a busy month.

But yeah, definitely busy at the moment.

Sam:

I mean… that sounds like a lot and it's kind of outside of your day job. There must be a reason that made you want to make a difference for this community.

Can you share what made you want to become a co-chair?

Jenny:

Yeah, it is. It is. It is a lot of work outside the day job.

My day job is very busy - I mean I'm dealing with 40 plus agents and, you know, talking to customers and brokers every day. So I do… honestly, if I'm being honest, I do question myself sometimes but the reward outweighs all of that.

I really enjoy the role and it connects me with a lot of people in the business that I wouldn't have been connecting with otherwise and that's just you know, in the D&I space. We connect with the Global Pride networks of Canada Pride and UK Pride which is great in that the Global D&I committee as well, we meet them kind of quarterly, which is which is really cool.

And then even, you know, in my own business, obviously I'm in a certain section of the business and we do work with a lot of other stakeholders, but even members of the community and allies and other areas that I definitely wouldn't work with or have come across.

So it's definitely been great for that.

And for me, I suppose my main motivator is… I've had such a good experience, as a gay person. I'm a young gay woman in my early thirties and you know, I find in an accepting and supportive company.  For me, I want others to tap into that and access that, if they're shying away from it for I suppose fear of discrimination or hurt.

And, you know, it may be older or younger members of the community that have come in at different times. And I just I just want people to see that that can be the way – and if it's not the way that, you know, we can speak up about it, we can educate people on that. It can change.

For me, I think when I got engaged, when I got married, when I got pregnant, when I had my baby, they were all celebrated the same as any of my colleagues, which is the way it should be.

I think that that, that that's why I, I put in the work because I think it's important and I always, this phrase always comes into my head when things like this are asked: Diversity is being asked to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.

So that, that, that's a well known phrase, and for me, Aviva are both. We're diverse and inclusive.

And I want the members of our community, our people that haven't come out, or feel like they can't come out, or maybe want to come out but just don't know where to start, or don't know what to do… So I think for all of us, the majority of our week is spent in work, so we need to be happy here.

We need to be safe here,

We need to be included here.

So that's my big motivator.

Sam:

So of everything that you and the community have done, is there anything that stands out to you that you are particularly proud of?

Jenny:

I've obviously only been in the role kind of a short time and I have been involved in kind of the committee over the years, but I definitely think… not only because it's fresh in my mind and, you know, emotionally fresh, but our allies relaunch yesterday.

in Ireland, I don't know if you're aware, Ireland's had a really tough time recently. There's been a lot of homophobic attacks in the media and probably some not in the media, too, as there always… as there always are.

In particular, there were two gay men murdered in targeted attacks in our community.

So, you know, people's backs are up.

People are shocked.

People are telling me they're shocked that this is happening.

But really, when you talk to members of the community, and people shared their stories yesterday

where they say that they're not shocked. So we very much got the time to sit down for an hour yesterday afternoon and share those.

We share those headlines of people. We left them on the screen for 30 seconds. Then we let people think. We really tapped into people's emotions on it.

So I think the conversation that flowed after the questions that were asked, I think that was kind of something I'm most proud of. That we as a company and we, you know, really it's an employee led community. So we as employees were allowed by this company to hold a safe space for people to discuss that, whether they were impacted or not, whether they wanted to ask questions or show their support.

So I was really, really proud about that.

And yeah, it's a tense time at the moment and it was really the right time to remind people what was happening and tell them what they could do.

So we gave people tips on how to be an ally, and we follow up sharing the allies guide and all the ways that you can show your support.

So yeah, it was it was an amazing afternoon. The emotion in the room and on the call, it was a hybrid call, was really, really tangible.

And I think for me, one of the biggest things that I noticed was the exco (executive committee) support both in the room and on the call. So we have support from the from the top upwards. It's very much tone from the top, and that was… I was really, really proud of yesterday.

Sam:

So is there a message you'd like to get out there for the community or about the community?

Jenny:

Yeah, for the community, you can have a good experience at work. And I know for various reasons that… I mean, there were stories shared yesterday where it doesn't surprise me why people say “I don't want to come out in work”, because they've been, I suppose for want of a better phrase, burned so many times before, but you can have a good experience in work.

What I will say is there's loads of avenues you can go down. First of all, your leader, we all do leaders training. I'm a leader myself. Any leader I've come across in Aviva, and as I said, the tone is from the top, is really accepting.

So I suppose on top of that, like, do your research, you know, there's so many… if you, if you're not ready to talk to someone, your leader or you know, myself, or a member of the community, do your research.

We have Yammer pages, which is our internal social media. We have our intranet pages, our Aviva World pages, and we've mailboxes for the Pride Committees. I know all of the Pride committees across the market have mailboxes which are confidential to say… and they're run by the co-chairs, so you can reach out there if, if you want to talk, and you can always message us on teams that, you know, we're here… I'm happy to. I've accepted messages and calls from people with questions over the months. We're your friend. We're here to support you.

I will say as well, you know, when you're ready, get involved. Whether it's just coming to the meeting, sitting in the background and kind of getting a feel for what's going on.

And I suppose for me, that's why I want to lead by example and be out in work. I've done a This Is Me story, I speak openly on these calls, and yeah, I just want to encourage others to do the same and show them that they can safely, I suppose, is the big thing.

Sam:

Is there anything that our listeners could do to help or support pride?

Jenny:

Ask, act and be visible.

So ask a question when you're unsure about something.

If somebody you know tells you something about their pronouns or their sexuality and you've I suppose made a slip of the tongue, just ask and question it.

You know, we love being asked. It shows respect, it shows interest, it shows awareness.

So ask if you're unsure then act call out poor behaviours or slurs. We're great at Aviva at speaking up, speaking out on all things across the business.

So I think that needs to be very much applied here.

Then be visible is probably the most important. So our theme for our allies relaunch was “be out as an ally” because we can all say we're allies. We can all share a post here or write a message there, but we really have to be out. We really need to be walking the walk. You know wear your lanyards, like and comment on the Yammer posts, show your support, attend the events and ask questions. Speak up, and, yeah, I think you very much need to walk the walk.

There is you know allyship you know you can say you're an ally but there's a lot to allyship and there's a lot more to allyship than just standing up. You have to walk the walk definitely. So yeah that's kind of what I'd say to that.

Sam:

We're going to leave Dublin now and head even further west, over the Atlantic, to Toronto.

Jason is the CEO of Aviva Canada, and he's one of our executive sponsors of Aviva Pride.

Sam:

Hi, Jason. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Would you mind kicking off with a bit of an introduction of what you do at Aviva?

Jason:

So I joined back in 2004. I've done a whole series of roles around the Canadian business and then I became the CEO three years ago, just a little bit before COVID.

So I've had a fairly interesting time as a CEO, like many people, right? Not being in the office as much over the last couple of years, but really, you know, I'm actually ironically one of the… I think I am the longest serving member of the Canadian executive team, which is quite frightening because I still think I'm fairly young, but apparently I'm a veteran - and I've been referred to as a veteran before, which isn't a term I love - but I know my role is to lead, to champion the Canadian business within the group, and obviously with all of my colleagues in Canada to make this the leading insurer in the Canadian market.

Sam:

And what's your role in the Pride community?

Jason:

So I have a role as one of the ExCo executive sponsors for this community, which I'm very proud to have that role.

My role then as a sponsor in this community is to champion it, is to talk about it, whether that’s as I did earlier this week, trying to encourage members of the team and the leadership across Aviva Canada to take part in the Pride parades coming up in Canada over the next few months, or whether it is to make sure that the Pride community in Aviva Canada is leveraging and taking advantage of resources and the experience and the forums that exist across the broader group.

You know, I've been fortunate to take part in some absolutely mind blowing events, particularly with the UK and members of the Pride community there, and just understanding and hearing about people's experiences, their upbringing, their background, the prejudices they've had to live through and deal with and it's been some of the most humbling conversations I've been part of because listening to people in this community talk about themselves… and then my role is to certainly where there have been instances of people have experienced prejudice or have experienced anything negative about themselves… A big part of my role is, it's not a pride specific example, but obviously over the last couple of years with the George Floyd murder and the reaction around Black Lives Matter, I mean, we had some really uncomfortable conversations in Aviva Canada around microaggressions and prejudice and bias that people were feeling.

And it was very raw and real at the time.

And what came across is we need to do more.

We need to stop this happening.

Well, the same applies in the Pride community. People, you know, the prejudice that they feel. And, you know, one of the scores we get, one of the questions in the employee survey is “I'm comfortable to be myself.”

I want that school to be 100%.

And I think in the last survey, it was in the seventies or eighties. That's not good enough. It needs to be 100%.

Everybody should be comfortable being themselves. And I have a role to play in championing that and dealing with issues and instances where that doesn't happen.

Sam:

And what does being an executive sponsor or co-executive sponsor mean? Can you give me any examples of things that you do for the Pride community?

Jason:

What it means to me is leading by example, whether that's on how I refer to myself, how I refer to other people, being respectful of people's lifestyles. And I think that you do need to be quite explicit around showing that leadership and leading by example and calling out behaviour that's unacceptable.

Now, I've only actually seen one or two instances of behaviour that I had to call out, but that doesn't mean that… I know that a lot more happens that I don't see.

And, you know, you're only ever able to see pockets of people's behaviour and how people see it in an organisation at any given time.

I mean, look, I've played quite an active role - probably much to the frustration of the team - to make sure that we have an absolutely brilliant pride parade this year in Toronto. Because we haven't been able to… this will be the first in person parade for three years.

And, you know, the last one we did in person three years ago was an absolutely outstanding event. And everybody that turned up loved it. I think it was the best employee engagement event I've ever been to and I've ever seen the employees and their families take part in.

So I do probably lean in a little bit on things like that because I want it to be a really amazing experience for everybody.

And I, quite frankly, want to be the company at the Pride Parade others look at and say, “God, isn't that amazing how Aviva turned out there” but more broadly than the parade, I think, you know, my role is just to stay connected with pride community make sure that they're able to move the dial and make progress and see that progress in the organisation and also make sure that they're able to stay connected to their colleagues elsewhere in the group.

And as I say, there's been some amazing sessions over the last 12 months with people in the UK that I've been privileged to listen to and be part of.

And I do think that there's some thinking and engagement in the UK that might be a bit more front and centre than what we've done in Canada.

So I want to make sure that we can follow the UK's lead.

Sam:

Why of the six different inclusion communities have you chosen to put your name to Pride? Why is Pride the one that you want to advocate for?

Jason:

I have friends who, you know, this is the world they live in and you know, over the years I talked to them about their experiences both in Canada and elsewhere, and it just feels a bit more proximate to me in terms of people around me.

I think Toronto has a brilliant LGBTQ community. It's a very vibrant community, it's a very open community. It's just one where I thought I could be a bit more impactful.

It's not the only community I want to focus on and the only area, but it's the one that I think for now I've been able to have a bit of an impact on.

Sam:

I mean, aside from those personal reasons, why is supporting Pride so important to us as a business?

Jason:

The Pride community is reflective of our employees and it's reflective of our customers. It's reflective of our partners and our suppliers and our vendors.

If we don't reflect that in ourselves and we're not more proactive about understanding it, then we're not going to understand our employees, we're not going to understand our customers, and we're not going to be relevant for them.

I mean, I am a white, middle aged, heterosexual male, married, I've got a son, but I am not indicative. I am not a snapshot of Aviva's employees or Aviva's customers.

So, you know, the Pride community is a great example of just trying to understand, in my instance, people that are a little bit different to me and I love that.

I love the variety that comes with our employee base and our customer base and our distribution partners and other partners.

But I know that I need to make a bit of an effort to understand them because they're not like me. I'm not like them.

So for me, being really proactive about getting that understanding and feeling, I can relate to people in the Pride community, acknowledging that I'm different and I don't have the same life experiences. I haven't had the same experiences growing up as other the people, but trying to understand that I think makes me and this company better.

Sam:

OK, so quite a big question now: what are your top three hopes for this community?

Jason:

First of all, I hope that this community is a place that really does exemplify, in everything it does, the values of Aviva and the values of being a member of the community. Feeling, as I said earlier, feeling really, really confident to be yourself and to do it in a way in a space that is beyond safe. It's just natural and comfortable and, you know, and it is something that draws people in, whether you're part of the community or not you feel proud of working for an organisation that has a community that's so vibrant and is so proactive.

I think the second thing is I'd love this community to be a role model for other organisations as to how to how to take it seriously, how to make a difference.

And then the third is you know, I'm a bit of a competitive person. I think we've got a number of communities across Aviva. I want them all to be brilliant, and I know they all are brilliant, but it would be great if the pride community is the one that other communities look to and say, Just see how far they've come, look at what they've done, they've done that. We can do that in our respective communities.

Sam:

Do you think there's anything that we do right now that sort of stands out? That makes you think that we're doing right by this group of people?

Jason:

I think the different forums we get together to talk about specific elements of the pride community and specific issues is brilliant.

Last year there was a session on the trans community and it was right in the middle of covid right? We were all doing it virtually and doing it from home and, you know, on the screen and I just sat and listened. I think it was about an hour or 90 minutes.

I was just speechless.

You know, for me, I think when you're part of an event or you're part of a dialog that leaves

you speechless, that's amazing. It made me reflect on what I knew or quite frankly, what I didn't know about the trans community and what I don't know about people in Aviva and the experiences they've been through.

It was probably one of the most profound things that happened to me last year.

That's a sign that this is a brilliant community.

Sam:

As a counter to the last question, is there anything that you wish that we could do better?

Jason:

I wish we could do more of what we're doing, you know, more frequently. And I'm conscious that there's an awful lot of effort and time that people give to this community. The events, as I mentioned, the events the dialog that we've had in the subsets of this community have been really impactful.

I don't know it's about doing them better

I wonder if it's about doing more of them, creating more venues and more forums for that to happen. I can only imagine from my own reflections and experience let alone a little bit of what I've heard from other people, that there's real value to that.

So it's not about doing anything better. It's just about trying to do more of the brilliant things that we doing.

Sam:

And so that is it for this episode. I hope you've taken away something valuable from it – legitimately, I know that I have - but I do just want to circle back to the one last question I always ask our community people right at the end of our conversations.

I ask them to sum up their community in just one word.

Some people manage it…

Jenny:

Support

Sam:

some are close enough.

Jason:

Amazing. It’s just amazing.

Sam:

But some people take it as an opportunity

to give me just something perfect to end an episode on.

David:

So the one word I would say that resonates with me when I talk about the pride community is hope.

And that means a whole host of things, but one thing that stands out to me is hope that we can change the insurance industry for the future and actually make sure that we're seeing more LGBTQ+ people in senior positions, but also hope that society becomes more inclusive and we can actually use our unique identities to celebrate why, as a society, we should be diverse, because it only brings out fresh thinking and new perspectives which is so powerful to how we perform at our best.

Sam

Thanks for listening, and whoever you are,

wherever you are… Happy Pride.

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