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Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Actuarial Science

Shared Risk, and Shared Reward must be the new business unusual if true diversity and inclusion are to be a reality.

By SAADP: August, 04, 2023

South Africa has seen an increase in the number of black actuarial science students in recent years. However, many of these students face an uphill battle to receive the funding they need to pursue their studies. Fortunately, private sector funding is playing an increasingly important role in providing financial support to black actuarial science students, enabling them to access the resources they need to succeed.

Actuarial science is a highly sought-after career in South Africa and the world. However, the profession has long suffered from the lack of representation when compared to the economically active population of South Africa.

1. The Lack of Black Actuaries’ Representation in the South African actuarial fraternity

The membership register has been dominated by white individuals, with black students facing significant challenges in pursuing a career in actuarial science.

Many aspirant black actuarial science students lack access to the resources necessary for success in the actuarial science profession. 

The main challenge facing aspirant black actuarial science students is the lack of access to the resources necessary for success in the actuarial science profession. Many students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and lack the financial means to cover the high cost of education and study materials. This puts them at a significant disadvantage from the onset.

2. Private Sector Initiatives to Create Access and Advance Diversity in Actuarial Science

By providing access to funding, mentorship, internship opportunities, and employment prospects, the private sector is helping to break down historical barriers and empower black students to achieve their full potential in actuarial science. Sadly, the investment made to support aspirant black actuarial science students leaves a lot to be desired.

Shared-Risk-Shared-Reward must be the new business unusual if true diversity and inclusion are to be a reality. 

Too many in the private sector only wake up and get involved when they need to fill posts for their organizations. Even then, they aren’t willing to make a real and tangible financial contribution towards supporting the education of future black actuaries, they are only too happy to benefit from the reward that others have borne the risks for but vehemently refuse to shoulder any of the risks inherent in the funding of students. Shared Risk, and Shared Reward must be the new business unusual if true diversity and inclusion are to be a reality.  It is therefore essential to increase investment in programmes that support diversity and inclusion in the profession. By doing so, we can ensure that more talented black students have access to the resources they so badly need. More needs to be done, more can be done.

3. The Role of Non-Profit Sector in Advancing Diversity in Actuarial Science

In addition to the private sector funding, non-profit organisations also play a critical role in advancing diversity and inclusion in actuarial science education. These organisations are driven by a social mission to create equal access to educational opportunities and to bridge the gap between underprivileged students and top universities in South Africa.

The South African Actuaries Development Programme (SAADP) is one such organisation which provides bursaries and support to black actuarial science students. Through its innovative students’ support programmes, SAADP aims to create a pool of skilled black actuaries who will contribute to the growth of the South African economy.

SAADP recognises the importance of diversifying the actuarial profession and creating opportunities for underrepresented groups to excel in this field.

Beyond providing financial support, SAADP also creates a supportive network for students. This network includes mentorship opportunities, career guidance, and access to industry professionals who can offer insights into the challenges and opportunities within the actuarial profession. Moreover, SAADP partners with universities, the private sector, and government entities to maximise its impact. This collaboration ensures that students receive the necessary academic and industry exposure to thrive in the competitive field of actuarial science.

In conclusion, advancing diversity and inclusion in actuarial science requires an intentional public-private collaborative effort.

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