Scanning social media over the last few weeks gives a clear window on the changing priorities of people, businesses and society. Rightly so, posts on how to stay safe, how to look after your mental health and, closer to the insurance home; how policy coverage is reacting to this phenomenon are flooding my news feeds, but unfortunately not always for the right reasons.
Business keeps on turning for the insurance profession and many of us may now find ourselves in the spotlight for our values and the way we treat our customers and clients, in this sense, it’s more important than ever to highlight our industry’s requirement to perform in an ethical way.
A few weeks ago, we held our Conduct and Ethics Committee meeting via video conferencing for the first time ever and it was a resounding success, though focus was initially on the current COVID-19 pandemic, discussion soon turned to Codes of Ethics.
One of the core objectives of the MGAA is to “Set best practice guidelines to assist members in ensuring the stability, security and reputation of their MGAs.” For me, supporting our members in operating ethically is key to this and so keeping our focus on this remains a responsibility for the Association and its members. A recent survey we conducted shows the majority of our members have a code of ethics with 74% returning a positive response. However, 92% of the respondents have not uploaded this to their websites citing that it has not been considered before.
For me, publicly demonstrating that a business has a strong emphasis on operating ethically and is open about that fact can be incredibly powerful. Recently I have seen high-profile backlashes against certain companies over their unethical handling of COVID-19. Firms such as Sports Direct and JD Wetherspoons have both come under fire for their actions, and it’s clear that present behaviours could have longer reaching repercussions in terms of reputational damage. It remains to be seen how Sports Direct and Wetherspoons will fare in the long term, but consumers have long memories when it comes to how brands treat their people and customers in times of need.
For insurance this is arguably more important, we’re dealing with people’s lives and at a difficult time such as this, how we treat them, and whether we adhere to our ethical values is under a microscope. So it’s a good time for businesses to embed a code of ethics that they can adhere to not just now, but throughout all their business operations.
So why not be open, up front, and proud to have a code of ethics policy that is embedded within your business?
On this theme, the MGAA has three simple and clear recommendations:
- We recommend having your own code of ethics that is easy to find for everyone to read and understand
- We suggest having this uploaded on to your website so it is visible to the public
- We also suggest reviewing the code on an annual basis and running refresher training for everyone to keep it front and centre
As for the MGAA, we have an array of resources available to our members. As well as having a dedicated Conduct and Ethics Committee that meets every two months and is available to discuss any issues facing the membership, we have our own Code of Ethics which we ask all our members to sign and offer specific learning modules on ethical conduct on our MGA Assess learning platform, all of which count towards CPD points.
The current climate clouds everything we do. The challenge of working remotely and in new ways doesn’t stop us from supporting our clients and customers, but business operations are undoubtedly a little more awkward and disruption does occur. Nonetheless, despite the obvious challenges, companies should continue to adhere to their strong ethical frameworks because, pandemic aside, operating ethically is key to any business’ success.