From insurance to inclusion: the significance of inclusion qualifications

If you’ve taken our CMI accredited inclusion and diversity courses, you will know our colleague Steven Copsey. But you might not know how he came to be our very own Inclusion and Diversity Professor. Find out about Steven’s career journey from insurance to inclusion, and how his name has evolved along with it.

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‘Why they call me ‘The Prof’

One thing that always crosses my mind when I start a new job is “how long will it take for them to start shortening my name from Steven to Steve?” It happens, it’s inevitable and it’s something that I used to hate.

Growing up, Steven always sounded so formal and Steve sounded too macho. In my head, Stevens were accountancy/finance types, and Steves were builders.

I had biases about my own name!

For as long as I could remember, at home, at school, in my first jobs – I was Stevie. And that’s how I liked it.

That all changed when I needed to become more formal. When I decided my day job could be more than a day job, that it could be a career (ironically enough, in finance). Suddenly Stevie was too informal, Stevie was immature, Stevie had no place in the workplace. I re-became Steven. And with that “rebirth,” Steve also emerged.

And he wasn’t that bad either!

Someone I didn’t imagine would emerge was “The Prof”. My educator alter ego. To understand where The Prof came from, we need to go back a few years. To the twilight years of my career in the financial services.

A fulfilling career change

I’d spent 12 years in the insurance industry and managed to work my way up to a relatively senior and strategic position. However, my day job just wasn’t fulfilling me in the way that it used to. My enjoyment was coming from the stuff I did on the side of my desk, the volunteer work I was involved in, anything and everything staff network related.

I decided I wanted to move into the Inclusion and Diversity space in a more official capacity, but I really had no idea how. There were no opportunities internally for someone in my position to move into that type of role.

And that’s when I found Inclusive Employers Level 6 Certificate in Inclusion. A qualification for I & D? Accredited by the Chartered Management Institute? Where do I sign up?

I was hoping my organisation would help support me, unfortunately, the local bureaucracy meant I’d probably get the go ahead in 12 months, not 12 hours. I decided to bite the bullet and self-fund. This was something I wanted, and something I couldn’t wait for.

Saying this course changed the trajectory of my life is a massive understatement. I realised that what I knew on the subject, was really just the tip of the iceberg. We delved into the legal framework, personal and organisational experiences of inclusion, organisational culture and we shared our best practice on stakeholder engagement and management. It was also an opportunity for us to talk openly and honestly about our challenges. What had been holding us back in our organisations? How could we start to overcome some of these barriers?

From student to ‘Professor’

Receiving the certificate in September of 2018 was a massive moment for me. I had it. Proof that maybe I did know what I was talking about. I quit my job in the same month and by the start of 2019 I was working with Inclusive Employers.

Midway through 2019 I began working as support on the CMI programme from an internal perspective. We’d had (in total) maybe 25 students who’d been through the course by that point. By the end of 2019 I’d moved from a support role and was fully delivering the majority of sessions across the country. We had another 30 or so students go through the programme in 2019.

During this last 12 months I had to “re-invent” myself yet again. I’d only just become comfortable delivering training in person after 12 years in a desk job. Now I needed to do it over Zoom. And I needed to make sure that it was enjoyable. That I was engaging. That I was creating a safe space virtually in the same way I did in a classroom setting.

It’s been an absolute pleasure going on this journey through lockdown, discovering different ways of working and finding what works for me and my students. The students on the CMI courses have really shaped me and my identity within the business. I don’t know when I became “The Prof” (again, another irony considering I dropped out of Uni in my first year), and I don’t know who I’ll be next, but for now, I’m really enjoying working with these incredible people and organisations.

We saw a lot of organisations commit more fully to Inclusion and Diversity initiatives in 2020 and that’s been evidenced in our student uptake too. A total of 86 students started their CMI qualifications in 2020.  Why?

People want to commit to Inclusion. They want to learn more about Inclusion. They want to understand what’s next for their organisations, their communities, themselves.

And if you don’t want to take my word for it, here are some comments from some of our students:

“We thoroughly enjoyed our virtual sessions with Inclusive Employers. It was fantastic to have an option which allowed us to learn from home and upskill ourselves during the pandemic.”

“The trainer’s engaging personality and depth of knowledge of the subject ensured that each participant was able to be fully engaged and catered for via the virtual classroom.”

“It’s really refreshing to be around such like-minded individuals. In a lot of our businesses, we’re the only one, or one of very few, that are driving D&I strategy, so to be around people that are all on the same path has been incredibly motivating.”