Building an “Inclusive Culture of Continued Development”

RSA is one of the world’s leading multinational insurance groups. Today, RSA employs over 12,500 people, serving 9 million customers in over 100 countries. The company has a long-standing reputation within Ireland too, and has been providing insurance solutions to the Irish market since 1721. RSA Ireland has teams in Dublin, Belfast and Galway. RSA also supports their customers through their affinity and broker channels as well as through its direct arm,

RSA Ireland is one of LIFT’s Founding Partners. Since 2018, the team at RSA has been rolling out LIFT’s leadership learning process and championing LIFT’s positive leadership values with its people. To find out more about their experience, we sat down with RSA Insurance Ireland’s Head of Culture, Communication and Engagement, Louise Lombard. As a LIFT Founding Partner, RSA has been an incredible ambassador and Louise has experienced the power of LIFT both in work and beyond. 

As Head of Culture at the RSA, Louise is responsible for “helping to develop a strong company culture, which encourages and supports our people in becoming the very best versions of themselves. The main aim for Louise is to build “an inclusive culture of continued development, with our people at the very heart of it; employees and customers.” Within RSA itself, their ‘Your Best U’ philosophy reflects their cultural aspiration to have everyone bring the very best version of themselves to work everyday.

‘We Didn’t Think We Had the Bandwidth to Become a LIFT Partner’

With RSA’s commitment and emphasis on building an inclusive culture for its people to flourish, the company is a perfect fit for LIFT’s leadership learning process. However, as Louise explains, initially RSA didn’t know if they had the capacity to adopt the LIFT process, let alone become a Founding Partner. 

When we were contacted by LIFT, Joanne came into our office to meet our CEO and Director of People Success, Noelle Burke. We really didn’t think we’d have the time or the bandwidth to become a LIFT partner. We already had so much going on in our business. But the moment Joanne started to share the concept of LIFT, the positive leadership values it’s based upon and its simplicity, we were in. Since then we’ve trained a number of Facilitators across our business, we’ve held leadership roundtables in Dublin, Belfast and Galway and our Director of People Success Noelle Burke has joined the LIFT Advisory Board. We’re so delighted we got involved!” 

Integrating LIFT With RSA’s Own Values

LIFT’s leadership learning process is based on an eight week programme with a weekly focus on one of the eight key values of Listening, Positive Attitude, Respect, Competence, Dedication & Determination, Empathy & Understanding, Accountability, and Honesty & Integrity. While RSA champions the eight core values, they didn’t want to lose sight of their own. 

LIFT’s 8 leadership values are incredibly powerful. But we also have four of our own here at RSA that form part of our ‘Be Your Best U’ philosophy – ‘Boundless Ambition’, ‘Be Better Everyday’, ‘Do the Right Thing’, and ‘Love Simplicity’. At RSA we have integrated both sets to form a combined group of twelve learnings. Combining the LIFT and RSA values has worked really well for us. The approach has helped us to take our values off pages and walls and bring them to life for our people. You can feel the difference that LIFT is making in our culture. All new members of the RSA team are introduced to LIFT through our Induction programme, where we watch one of our LIFT videos. All new recruits are auto-enrolled in an upcoming LIFT leadership roundtable. Of course everyone has the choice to opt out, although nobody has done so yet.

LIFT Ireland collaborated with RSA to turn LIFT’s 8 Leadership Values into a 12 part programme. Working together, creative teams at LIFT and RSA developed four new articles and learning materials which corresponding with the usual LIFT roundtable format. 

We encourage everyone across our organisation to get involved in LIFT. To date more than 50% of our ‘People Leaders’ have experienced LIFT. Introducing our leaders is a great way to spread the positive effect, given that they are the daily touch points for our people. Our overall ambition is that we double the number of those LIFTing in our Irish business in the short term.”

Sharing Personal Stories and Strengthening Relationships

RSA Insurance Ireland has become a model partner since first getting on board in 2018. In May 2019, RSA earned the Lifting Ireland award which signifies that 10% of the organisation is now Living LIFT. We asked Louise how this translates to everyday life in RSA.

“What we love about LIFT is that it’s so inclusive. Everyone can get involved in a roundtable as a member or as a Facilitator. It doesn’t matter if someone is an experienced team member, or a brand new recruit; everyone is treated as an equal. The result is that our people are more attuned to their values and actions. There is something so pure and well intended about the process that people really gravitate towards.

What has been an added bonus of LIFT are the bonds that have formed between people across our organisation. During roundtable discussions, people are discussing values and behaviours, sometimes sharing personal stories or opinions,  always in a very safe place. It has allowed our people to get to know one another in a much deeper way. This might not have been possible without LIFT. It has brought together people who work in different parts of our business or in different locations. These people might not usually get a chance to interact or get to know one another.”

A Better Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister and Friend 

As for Louise, the impact of LIFT has transcended the professional field into her everyday life. 

“I’ve definitely noticed the effect of LIFT in work but outside of work I’ve personally become much more aware. I think it has made me a better colleague but also a better mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. I often catch myself thinking about the values of LIFT when in different situations at home in the kitchen with my kids or talking with friends and family.”

Despite initially not being sure if becoming a partner was feasible, RSA has blossomed ever since and has become a hugely influential member of the LIFT network. We asked Louise what advice she had for organisations that are considering a LIFT partnership but might be somewhat hesitant.

“My advice to any organisations considering LIFT would be to just do it. We thought we were too busy and we had too much going on. Now LIFT has become a major part of what we do and who we are.

In terms of must-have internal processes, it’s near the top of our list. Beyond that, by being a LIFT partner you become part of something bigger than your organisation, your industry, your ecosystem. This is about changing Ireland for the better and creating a more positive future for the generations to come.  

We’ve become a very busy society and don’t often get a chance to stop, think, reflect upon our actions and share our thoughts and values with others. The more people that are Living LIFT, the better off our country and society will be. We’d become a much more empathetic, compassionate, inclusive, and above all else, kinder country. That can only be a good thing!”

We were delighted to get the chance to speak with Louise of RSA. She, along with Amanda Johnson, Noelle Burke and the RSA Group, have been huge inspirations to us. We would like to send a special thanks to Louise for sharing her thoughts. We’re delighted that LIFT has had such a powerful impact on her both on a personal and professional level. 

If you, or your organisation, are considering becoming a LIFT Partner, why not check out what’s involved by visiting our partner page below.