Celebrating the success of the 10,000 Black Interns programme

As this fantastic project comes to an end we are thrilled to have been able to offer four candidates permanent positions on the back of it. The 10,000 Black Interns Programme is just one of the actions we are taking to achieve a more diverse workforce that better reflects the markets in which we operate. This week we caught up with one of the candidates, Ifeoma Ejuh who is joining the RSA family, with a role in the Product Team. Ify shares with us what she has learned about herself and insurance during the six-week internship.

Did you have any preconceptions about insurance?

I didn’t have many expectations of what the insurance industry entailed as I wasn’t exposed to it growing up, though I did think it would be quite slow-paced, with not much change happening.

How has the reality compared to these ideas?

In my time so far at RSA I have seen a lot of change in motion! Throughout my internship I have had the opportunity to network with many people at RSA who have informed me about the challenges that the industry is facing and how they are needing to adapt to them, which means their roles at RSA are becoming quite dynamic.

I was quite naïve about the vast range of roles within the company and didn’t expect to find one that was so well suited to me in the People Analytics, Culture, and Engagement Team.

What do you enjoy most in your day and why?

I most enjoy when I'm on a call with a person in my team and they take the time out to explain something to me. For someone going into employment following education, it can feel quite daunting and challenging just getting on your feet. But to be at a company where people are so willing to help, it makes you feel confident that you will grow in the role. 

Can you identify an area/skill where you have grown or learned the most during this internship, and what do you put that down to?

My role is concerned with providing information that will best help leaders in making informed decisions about people strategy. With any information I provide, I first ask myself why is this important to them. Understanding their reasons why is often how you win influence from others, and it is such an important skill for any role.

Now you have an insider’s view of insurance do you notice a change in the way you understand the place of insurance in the economy?

Being a young adult, I don’t have much experience with insurance in my own life. Through working at RSA I have had a better understanding of the place of insurance in the economy as essential for people to feel protected against risk.

What advice would you give to any incoming intern?

Never think you’re asking too many questions. This is relevant when networking, and relevant within your own day-to-day role in the team. If there is something you’re interested in or a role you want to find out more about, just reach out to the person, there is absolutely nothing to lose. Within your team, if you don’t understand a task that you are completing, ask. Even if you’ve asked before and don’t understand, try to ask it again in a different way.

People are very patient with you at RSA and want you to achieve the best work possible so are always happy to arrange meetings to ensure you understand. Something that was said to me during the internship is that my work reflects on the team’s performance, so every member of the team is incentivised to ensure you understand so that it improves the productivity of the team.

Tell me Ify, do you have a 5-year plan? Do you have a dream position you hope one day to hold?

Studying Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at university exposed me to the importance of understanding human decision-making and behaviour in the commercial sector. It’s something I want to continue to have an element of in my future roles. Though I don’t have the clearest set plan, I see myself being in an analytical role like a UX researcher, a product analyst, or within people analytics. I think perhaps there isn’t a linear path to where I want to go, so I’m focussing on building up the skills and knowledge that will get me there.

Participating in the 10,000 black internships scheme is only one way we are trying to improve the diversity of our employee base, have you had any thoughts on actions RSA could take to help improve our racial make-up? Our gender make-up?

I think generally there is a lack of exposure of young people to the insurance industry. Maybe going into schools with these minority demographics to expose them to insurance and to demystify what exactly insurance actually is.

Also, it’s important the culture of the company enables people to comfortably be themselves without having to adopt a drastically different personality in the workplace.

Do you think there are ways the insurance industry could better serve sections of society that may have stark differences in their experience of structures and institutions?

I think the FCA is doing quite well to express concerns about consumer duty and set out clearer guidelines to protect consumers better. My degree made me conscious of the ways companies can sometimes, unfortunately, hinder consumers from making decisions that are in their best interest with the use of behavioural biases that suit the interest of the company -these are called sludges. As insurance can be complex to understand, much consideration should be placed on ensuring things are communicated in the most informative way.

Empathy and ongoing customer research should continually test the products and their outcomes. I would love to be involved in any workshops on the presence of sludges in insurance to ensure there is awareness and to change the culture to one that is more conscious of the effects on consumers.