Inclusion & Diversity are key priorities for AXA Partners. This includes a strong commitment towards employees with disabilities.
Nicola Bignell, Global Head of Inclusion & Employee Experience, shares her perspective on how this comes about every day in the workplace.

What is AXA Partners’ Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) strategy in the workplace?

Nicola Bignell : As a company, we want to make sure our teams’ diversity reflects that of our customers, as well as of the communities in which we operate. We are active in fostering an inclusive culture where people feel safe, valued and respected. We want our people to feel they can fully be themselves at work, knowing their differences are embraced as a strength.
This is why we put a strong emphasis on our inclusion and diversity policy, which is fully in line with our mission statement: Acting for human progress by protecting what matters when it matters.
Being a global company present in 34 countries, we have a rich variety of culture, background and experience among our employees. It is important that we ensure our engagements towards inclusion and diversity are fully understood and shared across our organization. This is one of the key drivers of our Inclusion & Diversity strategy.

We want our people to feel they can fully be themselves at work, knowing their differences are embraced as a strength.

Nicola Bignell, Global Head of Inclusion & Employee Experience, AXA Partners

More specifically, what is AXA Partners’ approach to disability in the workplace?

N.B : We acknowledge that living with a disability, may it be visible or invisible, is a part of everyday life for many of the people we work with. We want to make sure they evolve in an environment that supports them, in which they can work in the best way possible and where they have equal access to training opportunities and career advancement.
Also, we are fully aware a diverse and inclusive work environment is a pre-requisite for our employees to flourish and is key to our long-term success.

What is the level of awareness and engagement on this topic within the company?

N.B : Diversity in the broad sense of the term, and disability inclusion in particular, have always been a key priority for AXA Partners. A number of initiatives, both at a corporate and local level, have demonstrated this engagement in the past. The topic has gained momentum in recent years, with many of our employees showing a growing interest in our actions and approach. We also know that candidates looking for roles have increasing expectations of the organizations they apply to and work for.  They want to be part of a company that behaves responsibly and offers an environment that is fully inclusive, particularly for people with disabilities. We see that inclusive employers who have a clear diversity agenda tend to notice higher levels of employee engagement and of overall performance. Disability inclusion is a key aspect to take into account.

A diverse and inclusive workenvironment is a pre-requisite for our employees to flourish and is key to our long term success.

Nicola Bignell

What has been done in order to ensure progress on this front?

N.B : AXA Partners launched a global inclusion policy in 2021 across all the regions in which we operate, bringing together a number of pre-existing programs as well as new initiatives. There are key annual dates, during which we run coordinated events and awareness campaigns across all our countries, such as World Mental Health Day on October 10th and International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd. We have a network of inclusion champions in all regions who meet every month to share ideas and relay our global initiatives.

In addition, we provide training and awareness sessions for our managers to help them provide the right support to their team members with a disability.

Last but not least, we are actively supporting AXA’s Mix’iN employee network. This internal network (Employee Resource Group) is accessible to all AXA employees and aims to promote and act for Inclusion & Diversity both within AXA and in society as a whole.

Beyond our company-wide actions, we also have a series of programs running in our local entities. As an example, AXA Partners France signed in 2012 an agreement supporting efforts in favor of disability inclusion, with a very structured reporting framework. AXA Partners France also welcomed two candidates with disabilities as part of a Duo Day initiative launched last year. These candidates spent the day with two different teams, discovering their activities.

In Spain, AXA Partners is collaborating with Plan Familia, a program of the Adecco Foundation, offering support to our employees’ relatives living with a disability.

In the UK, AXA Partners has gained recognition as a Disability Confident employer, an accreditation from the UK government that validates our disability friendly protocols and practices.

What are the key milestones this year and your priorities looking forward?

N.B : In a few days on December 3, we will be celebrating the International Day of People with Disabilities, an initiative with a global reach and an important milestone on our I&D agenda. Local events coordinated through our inclusion champions will also contribute to raising awareness among our teams. This year we are planning to move a step forward on our engagements on disability and will take part in a global AXA Group initiative, a mentoring programme called Exchange, that will involve a yearlong work between a mentor and a mentee. The purpose of this project is to give this pair the opportunity to develop and propose a solution that will help us, as a company, to be more inclusive towards people with disabilities.

Earlier this year we marked World Mental Health Day, on October 10th, where we focused on employee well-being and the importance of social connection, in the wake of the pandemic and the development of smart working. As part of this event, we encouraged and supported our people in protecting and hopefully improving their mental health and well-being. We ran a global webinar on the importance of social connections and many of our countries took part in local events promoting tips on how to look after our mental health and well-being.

Ultimately, our goal is to continue raising awareness and bringing our people’s attention to the programs and initiatives we are implementing in favour of our employees with disabilities – by adapting our workplaces, working styles and mindset. 

Our intention is to move ahead with our inclusion roadmap, with a focus of adapting the support we offer to our people in our different countries, depending on the local challenges they are facing and to continue to build on the progress already made towards a truly inclusive culture. AXA’s intention to join the new Valuable 500 programme , called Generation Valuable, testifies to that. 

Generation Valuable, a Valuable 500 Program

On behalf of AXA, Thomas Buberl was one of the first signatories of The Valuable 500, a global collective made up of 500 CEOs and their companies, innovating together for disability inclusion. To date, we partnered with them on an ad-hoc basis but were motivated to be more active. We have publicly announced our intention to join their new program Generation Valuable.