Pride Month: Providing access to an inclusive environment


As we come to the end of Pride month, Rajinder Poonian, actuarial consultant in life insurance modelling and member of the IFoA’s Diversity Action Group, has been reflecting on what we, as actuaries and within the insurance industry, can do to be more inclusive.

More progress is needed

There is a long history within the LGBT+ community of individuals being excluded from services, but this is far from a thing of the past.

Only from this month are gay men allowed to donate blood in the UK on a similar basis to the majority of people. But right now there are still real problems with inclusion within our industry.

While great strides have been made to gain better access to healthcare and insurance since the HIV / AIDS crisis, the National AIDS trust discovered in 2017 that 1 in 4 people living with HIV had been refused a financial product or given an unaffordable insurance premium quote.

The LGBT+ community face specific health issues which have often not been addressed by public or mainstream healthcare services. It has taken several decades to embed understanding, resources, and new procedures for these issues into healthcare and insurance - yet the trans community in particular still faces difficulty with gaining access to relevant health insurance and barriers to certain healthcare services.

In the UK, a 2018 healthcare report by Stonewall showed more than one in eight LGBT+ people faced discrimination in the healthcare system.

Resistance and innovation

There is still resistance in some spaces. At the 2016 IFoA’s Life Insurance Conference, the opening plenary detailed how insurance products were being created and marketed in a more innovative way to allow a more diverse population to find and access insurance.

I remember it well since I was confused when some colleagues made disparaging comments, remarking that the talk was unnecessary (albeit this isn’t always a rare remark at conferences!). I also attended a focus group in 2019 where some participants wanted the IFoA to develop a greater focus on the UK despite the increasing membership overseas.

There have also been some great examples of innovation in recent years, and innovation is needed to solve the resistance problem.

Innovation is already happening in some areas and the IFoA can be a global leader to create fairer systems and guidance. The IFoA has continued to make strides globally as part of its policy agenda focuses on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and brought together actuaries from across the world for its ICAT workforce focussing on research about the issue and effects of Covid-19.

Recently, Emerald Life, which focuses on the LGBT+ community, the underrepresentation of women and non-traditional families has emerged to ensure fair provision of insurance to the UK market and the availability of insurance to the LGBT+ community globally has also increased.

Individual and group action

However, the IFoA is in such a great position to develop insurance and actuarial practices globally, especially where access to insurance coverage, pension benefits or actuarial expertise is scarce. We can contribute more than just adopting a pride flag - but by creating material change.

The advantages of taking a critical lens to inclusion has benefits well beyond just the LGBT+ community - but draws on the same approaches needed to other marginalised or vulnerable groups. Ultimately great for the industry - particularly at a time where it is facing reputational challenges.

Here are three things you can do to help:

  • Educate yourself
    Use the wealth of information from LGBT+ organisations and events during Pride month to learn about how Pride has been important in the past and why it is still important today. Learn about the issues still facing people of LGBT+ identity such as the difficulty for some of the transgender community in accessing healthcare insurance.
  • Be visible
    Put the flag up during the month or during the entire year. Create moderated safe spaces virtually and physically to allow people to create a community. Creating a group on Teams is good for this.
  • Promote and challenge the existing policies
    Create your own events at work to educate other colleagues. Look at your employer’s policies and products and if you think that they could do better - challenge them! Creating a group on Yammer is useful for this to find like-minded individuals and work together to find viable alternatives.



Support our work to promote diversity in the actuarial profession: learn about the IFoA Diversity Action Group, how you can join the conversation and be the first to hear about our initiatives.