This year's Provider of the Year award merited much discussion among the judges.
Several providers, large and small, international and local, were in the running to win this prestigious title for the work they and their staff have been doing to promote diversity and inclusion.
Some companies wowed us with their commitment to a single cause, such as taking significant steps to reduce the gender pay gap, to hire and promote more women and to bring more Black and female voices onto the board.
Strategies such as implementing flexible working hours (long before Covid-19 made this sort of arrangement mandatory) and improving parental leave policies resonated well among the judges.
Other companies impressed us with their wide-ranging efforts internationally, raising money for charities across Europe, and addressing the needs of their workforce and client base in different countries.
But what made the judges choose MetLife as the provider of the year was a combination of: freeing up individuals to champion specific causes within the workplace; working in its local area to improve the lives of people in the community; and visible efforts made over the past 12 months to carry out root-and-branch reviews into the whole spectrum of diversity and inclusion across the group, and address those areas where its research threw up opportunities to improve.
When MetLife moved its head office to the Brighton area in 2018, it committed itself to becoming an employer of choice in that part of Sussex. Its employer engagement forum worked with the company to promote its goal of being a fully inclusive employer, where “everyone is able to realise their potential without any barrier to success”.
The engagement forum, and its four sub-committees, set out to establish a baseline by understanding the current diversity and inclusion environment at MetLife.
A staff survey revealed a low Black and other ethnic minority employee count. While some companies might have said this simply reflected the wider Sussex demographic, MetLife decided to “enhance its recruitment advertising to encourage applications from all under-represented groups”.
Also, according to MetLife: “Tellingly, the survey revealed a hitherto unidentified number of carers among the workforce, resulting in a heightened awareness of the impact of work on caring responsibilities, while the reverse is also true.”
It set about introducing support measures to help sometimes overlooked groups, such as carers and those undergoing fertility treatment.
To improve the level of training and qualification of members of the diversity and inclusion committee, MetLife joined Inclusive Employers, an organisation that promotes inclusive workplaces.
Membership unlocked access to many resources such as consultancy calls, training packs and webinars. Inclusive Employers also reviewed all MetLife diversity and inclusion policies to make sure these had been well formed. Although training that had been scheduled for April this year had to be shut down because of Covid-19, MetLife pressed on with ways to improve diversity through hiring and retention strategies.