Case study

100% of Zurich professional participants say they’ve become more inclusive leaders
"Since taking part in the programme, my self-awareness has improved and the ability to work through personal challenges and goals."
Richard Wood, Head of Operations

About Zurich

Industry: Insurance

Location: Multiple offices across the UK (headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland)

Company size: 4,500+ employees in the UK

Zurich Insurance Group is one of the world’s leading insurers. In the UK, they provide general insurance products covering business, casualty, motor, property and travel insurance, life insurance and pensions products to individuals and corporate customers. 

The Challenge: Putting the ‘I’ into D&I

Prior to working with Circl, Zurich had taken strides to improve diversity within the company. While their commitments to diversity were going well, they were finding it challenging to improve inclusivity. Knowing that inclusion is integral to retaining and attracting a diverse workforce, they sought an initiative where their leaders could gain hands-on experience. Kumu Kumar, Head of Resilience Solutions UK said, “You can’t train inclusivity, it has to be experienced. We had a business need to help our leaders to be better coaches. Getting leaders to work deeply with people from underrepresented backgrounds, allowed us to develop an understanding of inclusive behaviours that we sought too.” 

The Solution: Becoming inclusive leaders by developing coaching skills

11 Zurich managers took part in Circl’s ‘Be a Leader, Build a Leader’ programme to undertake coaching training with biweekly theory sessions to develop skills such as active listening, coaching questions and goal setting methods. Participants were paired with a young person from an underrepresented background to practise coaching on each other throughout the programme. 

This approach has proven to create long-term behaviour change; working alongside a young person with completely different interests, experiences and backgrounds, engages professionals more than they would be working alongside their peers. It also helps them to increase their cultural awareness by gaining a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives.

The pair would meet on a weekly basis 1-1 to practise coaching each other by applying what they had learned in their theory sessions. By developing coaching skills, participants learned how to empower others by listening effectively, leading with empathy, and helping the coachee to discover their own solutions, rather than providing the answers for them. 

The Outcomes:

“We achieved our objectives - the team are now better coaches, they are full of empathy and they have a greater understanding of how important inclusivity is. I’m really pleased that we have a second programme underway.” Kumu Kumar, Head of Resilience UK

More inclusive leaders 

Following the Circl programme, 100% of the professional participants reported that they’ve become more inclusive leaders.

“During the programme we were gaining technical skills, but we were also getting people to really challenge their subconscious bias and to talk about different cultures and understand people who come from underrepresented parts of society. It’s had a fabulous impact and they have a greater understanding of how important inclusivity is. People are actively encouraging diversity and thinking about who they engage with. People are listening more and not putting their opinions forward as much, but opening up questions to the wider audience and hearing everyone's voice.” ~ Zurich Professional Participant

Empowered team members

64% of the Zurich professionals felt that they stepped outside of their comfort zone during the programme. The challenge improved the participants confidence, communication skills and self-drive. Team members shared that it encouraged their drive to gain a promotion, while others used the new skills to improve goal setting with their team. 

Engaged participants

Zurich saw a high level of engagement among the employees who took part in the programme, receiving positive feedback across the board. Many employees felt as though they had gained a new skill for life that had impacted both their professional and personal lives. 

“The level of engagement with my leaders was really high. They were talking about it for weeks afterwards. People enjoy it, people engage with it, they gain an appropriate qualification out of it and they can feel that it’s changing them. That’s why it’s so effective.” ~ Zurich Professional

Increased team efficiency

The coaching skills boosted efficiency throughout the team in two ways. Firstly, managers were able to save time by coaching team members to come up with their own solutions and progress their goals. Secondly, the improved communication meant that the leaders were better able to organise their teams and communicate the goals that they needed to achieve. 

Impact on Future Leaders

88% of the Future Leaders felt that their experience on the programme helped them to achieve either a personal or professional goal. Following the programme, the FL’s shared that their biggest takeaways were developing their active listening skills, increasing their confidence in a professional environment, and gaining more self-awareness. 

“I was able to attend a work experience on my own for the first time. The Circl programme and my match has helped me understand that I can do it, and to be more confident within myself.” ~ Zurich Future Leader

Download the full case study here.