AXIS chief people officer on creating a powerful culture within companies

In her role as Chief Personnel at AXIS, Noreen McMullan (pictured) has seen firsthand what it means when an organization truly understands that it is only as strong as its people, each bringing their own experience and expertise to the table.

She said, “As such, creating an environment where people feel welcome and empowered to be themselves and have the right opportunities and resources to grow their careers remains a top priority. This focus on talent and culture enables us to attract and retain the best talent in our industry, which in turn allows us to deliver a service.” Better for our clients, broker partners, and our communities.”

DE & I – A trip worth it

McMullan, who leads the global company’s HR function and talent strategy – which includes everything to do with people and culture – discovered her passion for supporting people at work when she began her career in HR. She said she started as a recruiter, tasked with matching people to roles that fit them best and identifying the best talent within organisations, while supporting them in their career development.

“I found that my passion was helping people find their jobs – and grow in them,” she said. “When you’re passionate about supporting people, it’s not hard to find inspiration. Thinking back on the past few years, we’ve seen changes driven by the pandemic and the social justice movement in 2020. These events, among others, have put DE&I at the forefront of our society and challenged how companies operate in a way that makes We have better employers.”

How to expand your efforts in development and design

Looking at AXIS as an example, she highlights how the company has significantly expanded its R&D and innovation efforts, using a five-part approach: internal education and awareness; recruitment and mobility; Career development to support diverse colleagues; Defense Industry and Measurement.

“We’ve also enhanced the overall workplace experience by switching to a hybrid work setting that we call Flex for Your Day,” she said. “We learned from the pandemic that our employees valued time spent at home but also missed out on personal collaboration in the office. This blended approach is designed to help teams find that balance to drive productivity and enable our employees to craft a schedule that fits their lifestyles and needs in a more holistic way.”

“Ultimately, it is the more than 2,000 people at AXIS who inspire me and our team to continue finding meaningful and innovative ways to enhance our culture, recruit and develop outstanding talent, and cement AXIS’s position as an employer of choice in our industry.”

How the DE&I conversations continue to evolve

Touching on how DE&I conversations have evolved and shaped the HR landscape since she began her career, McMullan notes that when she first started working, DE&I wasn’t part of the conversation. At most, it was something included in a report that was reviewed once a year and held off the rest of the time. However, it is encouraging to see that organizations have come a long way since then, she said, albeit with recognition that there is still much work to be done.

“Today, more organizations including AXIS endorse the belief that diversity of talent brings diversity of thought,” she said. As a result, diverse organizations benefit from a broad pool of knowledge and experience that drive business results.

“At AXIS, DE&I remains a top priority and we approach this business with an ultimate value-driven mindset. For example, we have set a development and compensation target to achieve global gender parity across all levels of our workforce by 2025, as well as targets to increase racial representation and females in higher positions.”

DE & I – Continuing story

The DE&I journey is not about milestones or touchpoints, but about conversations and evolving and ongoing work. Looking back on her own path, McMullan emphasized that she is prouder than any specific points of contact, of the culture that has been embraced at AXIS. It is a culture built on mutual respect, she said, where people are empowered to share their ideas and points of view.

“In fact, our grassroots development and development programs are informed by looking at employee input after surveys and hearings,” she said. This feedback provided a roadmap for our growth and development approach and is fully supported by the organization’s senior leaders.

“To help drive our DE&I program, we have a DEI Board made up of volunteer staff members representing a range of backgrounds and geographies. They are key agents in the staff feedback loop – engaging with colleagues across AXIS to ensure that our programs resonate, represent a diverse range of voices, and that we continue to score Progress towards development and development goals.”

In addition, she said, AXIS has five Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for members and allies of the following communities: racially diverse employees; LGBTQ+; parents and caregivers; ancient warrior; and women. Global corporate ERGs host events and awareness campaigns across the organization, creating connections and building a sense of community.

“We are proud that our culture has been recognized as one of the Best Midsize Employers in America by Forbes magazine for two consecutive years, been recognized in the Bloomberg Gender Index for three consecutive years, and named one of the Insurance Companies’ Top Employers,” she said. Working for Business UK in 2023.” “These recognitions confirm that we are on the right track, and I am excited to continue our progress.”

As someone on the front lines of building a strong company culture, McMullan understands what makes a great culture stand out from the crowd—and in her view, it’s all built on the foundation of the individual employee.

“For me, it’s when an employee feels comfortable and confident enough to bring their whole self into work,” she said. “It is a culture where people can share ideas and know they will be heard and respected – where everyone has a voice and is valued, and that is what we strive to achieve at AXIS. We put our people first because we know that without them, we cannot achieve our goal of being there when Our customers, partners and communities need us most.”

Making this culture a reality is where initiatives like the Dive Festival come in. And in insurance, risks are constantly evolving, and it’s all too easy to get sucked into your work and daily life. Any time we can take the time to stop and reflect on issues like DE&I is very valuable, she said, and that’s what the Dive In Festival provides – and AXIS is proud to be a longtime supporter and global partner of the festival.

“Improving performance development and integration is a challenge facing the entire industry – and initiatives like the Dive In Festival are great because they bring us all together in a unified effort,” said McMullan. “It is imperative that we create forums where we can share best practices, learn from each other, and discuss topics that need to be recognized, no matter how difficult. Initiatives like Dive In Festival will help us improve and become a stronger industry and stronger community.”

Click here to catch up on any Dive In 2022 event you missed

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