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“Our vision is to reinforce and ultimately build a continuously evolving workplace culture…”

June 10, 2019

Insurers in India have been generally reticent when it comes to Diversity. While Diversity is not just about gender – women leaders in insurance remain far and few. It took almost 17 years since the opening up of the market to organise the first ever Diversity dedicated event – thankfully under the auspices of the Chartered Insurance Institute.

I had the pleasure of speaking, on the subject, to Bhargav Dasgupta. He is the Managing Director & CEO of ICICI Lombard – the largest private sector non-life insurer. Bhargav earned his B.E. from Jadhavpur University and a PGDBA from IIM Bangalore. He was named as one of the top 25 ‘Young Executives in India’ by Business Today in 2006.

Praveen Gupta (PG): Would you agree that Diversity is not just about gender?

Bhargav Dasgupta (BD): Diversity at the workplace is about the variety of differences amongst people in an organisation. Apart from gender, it includes differences in thoughts, personality, unique capabilities, and talent that people bring to work. It is an understanding that each individual is unique and that these individual differences are recognised so that every employee feels welcomed, important, respected, engaged while being treated equally with fair access to opportunities. It is about assimilating people with differences, creating an enabling environment where these differences can be nurtured and leveraged to contribute to a firm’s goals.

In an organisational context, diversity today includes and is not limited to nationality, geography, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical disabilities, family status, religious beliefs, perspective, experience, ideologies etc. The business case for diversity is well established and is now a corporate imperative as much as it is about fairness and societal equity.

PG: In general sense of the term, how does it manifest at your Board, senior management levels and right through the hierarchy?

BD: At the Board and senior management level, we have a diverse representation in terms of Gender, Experience, Expertise and Capabilities. Across the hierarchy, we do not discriminate against individuals based on their gender, age, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, family status, disability etc. Further, we ensure fairness and avoid discrimination in matters including employment terms and conditions, career growth and learning and development opportunities.

The diversity journey is an on-going one with adequate scope for us to further strengthen the mix. We constantly explore opportunities to enable us to drive high performance and growth.

“As a Company, all our actions are based on the deep understanding of the diverse needs and requirements of our varied set of customers…For instance, we have introduced a solution named Women Assist, which provides specialized services to our women customers”.

PG: Do you offer any specific products or services that facilitate Diversity?

BD: As a Company, all our actions are based on the deep understanding of the diverse needs and requirements of our varied set of customers. Equipped with these insights, we offer an array of risk mitigation solutions to our customers along with value added services. For instance, we have introduced a solution named Women Assist, which provides specialized services to our women customers. In case of a vehicle breakdown at odd hours (8 pm – 6 am), a female insured/ occupant can seek immediate assistance i.e. auto engineer on site/stranded vehicle transport to the garage. Further, she can avail a taxi service and alert messages can be sent to her family to keep them updated on her whereabouts.

PG: How do you ensure a reasonable form of Diversity amongst your customer base?

BD: Through our array of risk management solutions and value-added services, we cater to a diverse range of customers – both individual and large customers, in urban, semi-urban and rural areas, comprising of different age groups, gender, race, religion etc. For us, our product range facilitates a wide spectrum of customers, for instance, we have solutions across health, motor, travel, home, engineering, fire, cyber, personal liability and other areas.

These solutions ensure that our customer base is diverse and encompasses consumers from diverse fields and backgrounds. Having said this, we engage with a diverse set of channel partners such as dealers, agents, brokers through whom we reach out to our customers. These business partners add to our diversity pool.

PG: Any thoughts on financial inclusivity as a catalyst for facilitating Diversity?

BD: To penetrate rural, semi urban markets and to cater to the emerging needs of our customers in these markets, we provide products and services in far flung location through Virtual offices and Customer Service Centre (CSC) channels.

We also offer products and services as sachet units or monthly expense items, where the unit size is small, thus improving the access and affordability for such products and services. For instance, we have personal accident covers where the monthly premium is as less as Rs. 2 for a sum insured of Rs. 1 lakh. Similarly, we have tie-ups with radio taxi players where the taxi ride can be insured for as low as Re. 1.

PG: Would you consider the Digital Divide as a form of Diversity? And how does one address it as the Information Age advances?

BD: We recognise that our customers and channel partners have different needs and preferences with respect to access to and adoption of technology. We currently cater to all sections of this spectrum offering physical and digital mediums to interact and engage. We facilitate the adoption of technology given the simplicity, speed, ease and convenience that various technology tools especially mobile devices offer today. We ensure that at the design stage itself, we take care of the ease of the usage and interface aspect of our various applications for our customers, channel partners and even employees. 

PG: Last but not the least, what’s your vision for your Company in particular and the Industry in general?

BD: Our vision is to reinforce and ultimately build a continuously evolving workplace culture, where everyone feels included and respected. It includes building an environment where we value differences and leverage them for a variety of perspectives and ideas to meet the known and unmet needs of our customers and channel partners and deliver on performance and growth.

The industry, given the vast scope and customer segments it caters to, has a great opportunity to drive diversity in the workplace so that it reflects this diverse group that is serves.  

PG: Many thanks and best wishes in your endeavours.

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2 Comments
  1. Such a thought provoking subject. I truly enjoyed reading through this article and listening to the views of senior industry veterans.

  2. Appreciate your thoughts, Ramya! One has to keep this discourse going…

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