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Lloyd’s of London sets ethnic minority staff targets as it bounces back from Covid losses

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Lloyd’s, the world’s biggest insurance market, has moved back into profit as a stronger underwriting performance helped it bounce back from last year’s Covid-19 losses, and announced an imminent target for minority ethnic representation across the market.

Lloyd’s made a pre-tax profit of £1.4bn in the first six months of the year compared with a £438m loss a year earlier. It paid out £2.2bn for Covid-19 losses, slightly less than £2.4bn in the first half of last year. For customers affected by the pandemic, 80% of claims filed have been paid so far.

Lloyd’s said it would set an ethnicity target for the whole market in the next fortnight, mandating that one-third of all new hires must be from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. However, Bruce Carnegie-Brown, the chair, said Lloyd’s did not have current figures on the market’s ethnic backgrounds.

The group also wants to achieve gender parity within 10 years and last summer set a market gender target of 35% women in senior roles by the end of 2023. Within the company, 47% of leadership positions are occupied by women while across the market, the figure is 29%. It set a further target of 20% female representation on boards and executive committees and said the market was close to achieving this.

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The group paid out almost £10bn in claims during the first half of this year, relating to supply chain disruptions such as the Suez Canal blockage, the ice storms in Texas, summer flooding in Germany and the Netherlands, and recent wildfires in Europe. Insured losses related to Hurricane Ida, for which estimates range from $19bn to $30bn (£13.7bn-£21.7bn), are not included in the numbers and will affect second-half performance.

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Presenting the results from the Lloyd’s building in the City of London, Carnegie-Brown said about 30% of staff had returned to the office, and close to 15% of underwriters and brokers working for the insurers that operate within the market. Tuesday represented the busiest day since the pandemic started, when 800 people came back to work in the office, and Lloyd’s hosted a reception for 100 people on Wednesday night.

An average of 5,000 people now come to the Lloyd’s building every week – before the pandemic it hosted that number on a typical day. Carnegie-Brown stressed the benefit of chance meetings and the importance of face-to-face contact in the insurance market.

Gross written premiums increased to £20.5bn from £20bn due higher premium rates, high customer retention and new growth for the first time in four years. It has pushed the insurers within the market to focus on writing more profitable business.