Interview with Airmic ESG Ambassador Glenn Ellis

Published on Wed, 27/10/2021 - 12:26

Glenn Ellis sits on Airmic’s board as a director as well as holding a newly created role as Airmic ESG Ambassador.

Glenn’s role as ESG Ambassador is new and was created to address challenges faced by Airmic – along with its many member organisations – to support the design and delivery of strategic Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) objectives.

His position on the board gives Glenn a seat at the top table from where he can help to  promote and drive Airmic’s ESG activities, including those focused on the climate risk footprint,  encouraging environmental sustainability, and improving the level of diversity and inclusion in the risk and insurance communities.

“An Airmic ESG Policy Framework is work in progress,” Glenn says. “As the ESG Ambassador, I lead an ESG project team and its purpose, inter alia, is to be the focal point for all matters pertaining to ESG.”

There are four strands to developing and maintaining this, he outlines:
• developing an ESG matrix of Airmic’s strategic activities
• promoting D&I as a priority activity within Airmic
• providing targeted support and advocacy to D&I initiatives in the UK insurance market

• maintaining ESG thought leadership in collaboration with Airmic members and partners.

Airmic News caught up with him just days after the Annual Conference, held 5-6 October in Brighton, where Glenn led one of this years’ leadership breakfast sessions (pictured), focusing on D&I, which involved Airmic members and industry leaders as panellists.

While ESG might mean different things – with inevitable differences in prioritising issues – between different organisations, there is a sharp rise in its perceived importance across all organisations.

“Everyone seems focused on ESG activities now,” he says. “I think we’re at the point where environmentalism was five years ago, which is when words start translating into action, rather than just concerns for the future. It’s important that we see action, because if what you’re doing sounds like bluster, people will step back.”

Practice what you preach

Glenn agrees with Airmic CEO Julia Graham’s comments during the recent press conference, that the organisation aims to “practice what it preaches”.

Speaking at the press conference, Julia echoed the need for priorities, noting that Airmic is particularly focused on gender and age, as it tries to improve D&I performance.

“We are suggesting you can’t do everything…But if there are some things that are really top of your agenda, then pay the greatest attention to those,” she said.

“Whether that’s the result of the type of business you are in and how climate change might affect that, or whether it is more on the governance side of things, you just need to have that focus and deliver your approach,” Julia added.

Glenn agrees with the comments, noting the importance of being realistic about the goals Airmic is aiming for, how far we are from achieving those aims, and how best to reach them.

“We mustn’t beat ourselves up as Airmic but we can’t give ourselves an easy ride either. Julia has been quite self-critical of Airmic but in a positive way. We have scratched the surface of diversity and inclusion, but we are certainly on a learning curve, and there’s no point in suggesting otherwise,” Glenn says.

The focus on gender has included the appointment of several female board members within the past year, with the roles of Chair and CEO of Airmic both held by women simultaneously for the first time this year.

“Airmic is focused on gender, which is something many organisations want to change, and have struggled to do so meaningfully in recent years. In a short space of time, and despite pandemic, Airmic has made a good start,” Glenn says.

“The leadership team, for example, should reflect clients. This is not just about gender or race, investors and customers ask questions and expect to see diversity of thought and diversity of approach. Attitudes have changed, and people will increasingly not tolerate organisations that are not representative,” he adds.