Let’s talk about race

Let’s talk about race

Let’s talk about race 1920 1280 Equity

Peter Jajua’s journey to a career in Insurance

An internship in the summer of 2018 opened my eyes to the insurance sector and the opportunities within my reach, but also made me aware of the very evident lack of diversity.

I was born and raised in Hackney, East London, a diverse area where I attended a school with people of all cultures and backgrounds. However, it wasn’t until my time at university that I realized how privileged I was to have had such experiences. I noticed that many of my peers’ experiences with people of different cultures were limited. I picked up on this a lot whilst studying for my Law degree.

I had interned at a couple of the Magic Circle law firms and some of the top companies in the financial services industry both during and before my time at Law school, but my experience in the London Market was what led me into wanting to pursue a career in insurance. I remember my family’s surprise as they thought I was heading toward a career as a Litigation Lawyer, but my internships in insurance were a wake-up call. I found the work-life balance, social aspects, and challenges more suited to my attributes than law. However, I observed that there were very few people with similarities to my demographic and interests, making it difficult to find role models. This realization motivated me to address the issue of diversity in the industry. To some, this might have been disheartening and put them off a career in such a sector, but if we all had an attitude like that then change would never occur.

To put it quite simply, for a variety of reasons, not many people from my world went on to work in corporate insurance. But I believe it alone exposes one of the issues, and we should actively promote discussions about it. Without addressing the issue of market diversity, in my opinion, we’ll just stay stuck in a never-ending cycle of the same individuals getting the same opportunities. This is part of the reason I’ve developed such a close relationship with ACIN – we share the same concerns and are working to change the narrative. My discussions with Aaron, Junior, and Godwin constantly revolve around what it’s like being a minority in the market and how we can help. It’s something that’s always been important to me. From a young age, I saw the importance of D&I, but I think for most people, it didn’t resonate before the George Floyd incident. It’s great to see more people realising how crucial it is, but there’s also frustration affiliated with that emotion as I believe that the issue was just as relevant and important prior.

After a year in the job, I see it more clearly. Ours is not a diverse market, but it is diversifying. Sometimes I feel like people are scared to have conversations about these things, but it’s good to talk – we need to make the entire market a safe place to have these conversations to encourage progress. Conversations about this issue are essential, and it is reassuring that Brit encourages such discussions. I am a member of Brit’s Employee Resource Group, R.I.S.E (Race, Inclusion, Solidarity & Equality), where we have conversations that might otherwise be avoided in the office, to ensure voices are heard, and everyone is included.

At Brit, our head of D&I, Wayne Page, is passionate about hiring diverse talent of people from all religions, genders, sexual orientations, and races. If the rest of the market could mirror Brit’s attitude toward diversity and inclusion, we could see more progress than we have seen so far. It can be challenging for someone who looks like me to integrate into the London insurance market, but we must talk about cultural differences and actively work toward change. It’s easy to become accustomed to the feeling of being different, and I’ll admit I did for a while. But instead, we need to take action by having conversations and actively participating in efforts to bring about change. I believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to encourage that change.

Peter Jajua
Property treaty underwriting assistant
Brit Insurance