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Manulife wins HKB Management Excellence Awards for DEI programme

The initiative aims to better serve a diverse customer base whilst ensuring they are treated with dignity.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programmes of many companies today are often focused on internal stakeholders, community investment, advocacy and volunteering, as well as customers. However, efforts on these ends tend to revolve mostly on marketing campaigns that only build hype and excitement and not follow through in the long-term.

As such, the DEI team of global insurance company Manulife wanted to see how it can better impact and focus on customers by looking at their needs and pain points, and rethinking and expanding who are considered as customers.

Moreover, their studies also show that there are minority groups or people that face perceived and genuine barriers to insurance and are therefore underinsured. This barrier is not primarily due to financial constraints, but on the lack of access to information, lack of awareness of insurance and financial services, a perception that the products are not designed for them, and previous negative experiences when interacting with providers.

This led Manulife to launch its Diversity in Action programme to better serve customers whilst empowering DEI champions and treating minority groups with dignity.

The programme used a design thinking framework to teach valuable tools to employees and help the cohort develop a common language and way of interacting. It has also organised empathy panels wherein it gained insights from researchers, people with lived experiences, and leaders who worked directly with these communities.

This included women entrepreneurs, people living with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, as well as people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.

“The focus on empathy has opened the eyes of our cohort and encouraged them to always be on the lookout for situations that might unfairly disadvantage certain groups. This is a skill and a mindset they can take into all other aspects of the work they do in Manulife,” the company said.

Diversity in Action also wanted to innovate how it will serve customers by not making assumptions on their needs and the solutions that they want. This led them in refining and developing ideas into a book of work that continues to achieve results.

Currently, Manulife’s participating markets have begun the process of implementing a few, extremely impactful ideas to create a fairer insurance industry, and improve its sales and serviceability across markets.

Amongst these breakthroughs include the roll out of life insurance coverage to people who have been diagnosed as HIV positive. In addition to the coverage, customers will also be able to appoint beneficiaries other than immediate family members to improve the individual’s rights to protection and security.

The success of Manulife and its DEI programme has been acknowledged in this year’s HKB Management Excellence Awards as the recipient of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative of the Year - Life Insurance category win.

The coveted awards programme honours the region’s most outstanding leaders, innovators and teams whose initiatives have made substantial contributions to the growth and success of their companies and of Hong Kong.

The HKB Management Excellence Awards is presented by Hong Kong Business Magazine. To view the full list of winners, click here. If you want to join the 2025 awards programme and be acclaimed for your company's employee engagements and management initiatives, please contact Danica Avila at [email protected].

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