Canadian Underwriter

How Aon Canada is promoting LGBT+ inclusion

January 29, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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Aon Canada plans to do a voluntary workforce survey, which would include questions about sexual orientation.

Last year, the global insurance brokerage launched an employee self-identification campaign in the United States, said Sean Kavanagh-Lang, national broking director for operations, data and analytics at Aon Canada.

“We will be launching that here in Canada as well,” Kavanagh-Lang said in a recent interview

It will not be mandatory for employees to self-identify. The aim is to help Aon Canada executives better understand where the company stands today on diversity and inclusion.

“I can identify as a gay man. Black colleagues can identify as being Black. It really gives the organization more measurable data to make sure we are advancing the diversity equity and inclusion agenda that we have,” said Kavanagh-Lang.

He was asked by Canadian Underwriter to describe Aon’s LGBT+ inclusion initiatives.

Aon announced Jan. 19 that global CEO Greg Case was named the Number 1 ally on the INvolve OUTstanding LGBT+ Ally Executives list for 2020. Created in 2013 by Suki Sandhu, INvolve is a global group whose members include Aviva plc, Swiss Re, MS Amlin, Mercer, and several non-insurance organizations including MasterCard, Microsoft, and Deloitte, among others. [Sandhu is also founder and CEO of Audeliss, a London-based executive search firm that specifically represents LGBT+, ethnic minorities and women].

“It’s great to see that [Aon’s] global CEO is promoting [LGBT+ inclusion] and I think it trickles down through the organization,” said Kavanagh-Lang.

Since Kavanagh-Lang started working for Aon in 2007, he has observed “a huge shift” in attitudes within the corporate world towards LGBT+.

“I am 34 years old and when I first came into the working world, [self-identifying] was a concern for me,” he said. But within his first six months at Aon, he felt comfortable telling colleagues he was in a same-gender relationship.

“I do know some older colleagues in the industry – not specifically at Aon – [who found it] was a challenge to come out and be themselves at their organizations.”

Aon Canada has a formal anti-discrimination policy that forms part of its human resources policies, said Kavanagh-Lang, who was recently invited to sit on a new inclusive recruitment committee launched by Stéphane Lespérance, president of commercial risk and health solutions at Aon Canada. The aim of the committee is to make sure Aon Canada is considering diversity in its hiring practices – and to ensure the interview panels themselves are diverse.

This year, Aon Canada plans to launch education events to help insurance professionals better understand the LGBT+ communities.

Aon is also partnering with It Gets Better Canada, whose board members include Kavanagh-Lang.

A non-profit organization, It Gets Better began in 2010 as a social media campaign to provide hope and encouragement to young LGBTQ+ people.

Aon started running Pride events in 2016 in response to the Pulse Nightclub tragedy in Orlando, said Kavanagh-Lang. Dozens of people, most of them  LGBT+, were killed June 12, 2016 by Omar Mir Seddique Mateen.

Within two weeks of that massacre, Aon Canada raised a few thousands dollars at a fundraiser event. “We had well over 100 people come out to attend with less than two week’s notice,” reported Kavanagh-Lang.

Aon Canada has since expanded the annual Pride event to seven different Canadian cities.

Canada’s federal Treasury Board Secretariat explains exactly what is meant by LGBTQ2+.

There is a difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, notes TBS.  Gender identity is who you identify as and who you know yourself to be – how you choose to identify yourself.

So the “T” means transgender or a person whose gender identity is different from the sex placed on their birth certificate. The “Q” can stand for queer or questioning, says TBS. “2” is for Two-Spirits, an indigenous identity used by some people whose gender identity, sexual orientation, or spiritual identity differs from the societal norm. It is called “Two-Spirits” because a person may be believed to have both the male and the female spirits within them, TBS explains. The + sign at the end is there to represent other identities such as non-binary, pansexual, asexual and intersex.

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2 Comments » for How Aon Canada is promoting LGBT+ inclusion
  1. Eric says:

    Does inclusion and tolerance apply to those with hold conservative religious ideology too or do they have to hold the exact same values as Aon to be eligible for inclusion and tolerance?

  2. jen says:

    Are they pressuring employees to answer these “voluntary” profile questions declaring one’s gender, citizenship, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and ethnicity as other companies are right now?

    Let’s call it what it is, the latest industry trend of self promotion with the intention of showing how “inclusive” we can be.

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