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[BLOG] Gender Diversity – Progress not Perfection

  • Publish Date: Posted over 5 years ago
  • Author:by Matthew Eames

The week of International Women’s Day (IWD) (8th of March), we reflect on changing gender diversity statistics in the insurance industry.

Recently, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) published the results of a survey showing growth in female representation across the insurance sector within entry, management and executive level positions. Despite this, plenty of progress is still needed. Statistics show an improved, although small, growth in representation within the top tiers of insurance firms. While we are witnessing real momentum, if meaningful acceleration is to continue, further inclusion is needed at all levels of the employee structure for the industry to truly shift gears.

In 2018, statistics showed a 5% increase in women at executive level positions, up from 22% in the previous year, while 39% of people at management level were female, up 3% from a year earlier. Representation is also improving at entry level as more women than men continue to join the industry (see chart below) [i][1].

Insurance employers are also placing greater emphasis on partnering with initiatives which help drive change. The survey found that 88% of firms have an executive sponsor for diversity and inclusion, up from 74% the year before1.

What’s more, efforts in the industry are continually being recognised. The Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE), the industry standard and methodology on corporations advancing inclusion, have awarded Zurich and AXA insurance for their efforts in 2015 and 2016 respectively[2], and more recently Mercer UK in 2017[3].

Despite improvements and as mentioned before, while the change is positive, it is not all encompassing. A one percent increase from 2017 to 2018 of females in board level roles serves as a stark reminder of the need for further progress.   

Eames Partnership has a leading data driven methodology. Through our research across multiple markets we have found a noticeable male dominance within the insurance industry, particularly when paying close attention to the underwriting, broking and technology sectors. A recent insight report compiled by our internal research team in 2018, showed that just 4% of senior underwriters in an individual class of business were female.

In fact, data from the Chartered Institute of Insurers (CII) is consistent with our findings. At Associate and Fellowship status, only 26% and 13% respectively are women, whereas among those with Certificate status the spread is much more even at 46%[4].

This not to say there has been no change at all. We have noticed an increase in the number of searches for women in board level roles.

Time, has and will, show greater improvements. However, the gears are shifting, and the wheels must be kept in motion. Boards risk restricting business performance if they do not embrace diversity sooner. A highly capable pool of employees can bring about significant progress for the board level, and better yet, the industry as a whole. 

The importance of inclusion cannot be understated. As the industry approaches significant improvements in gender diversity, the same survey showed black, Asian and and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals working in the sector dropped from 15 % to 13 % from 2017 to 20181. Addressing this setback, look out for our next article discussing a need for the sector to further develop inclusion standards.

For more information on gender diversity or to find out about our services please contact Matthew Eames, Managing Partner;

[1] ABI, Is the dial starting to shift? Signs of progress on gender diversity in the insurance sector, 2019
[2] Insurance Business UK, Women form the majority of this global insurer’s workforce, 2016
[3] Mercer, Mercer UK attains edge assess certification for gender equality in the workplace, 2017
[4] PwC, Diversity in Insurance, There are far too few women in senior positions within InsurTechs, 2017

[i] The ABI surveyed 103,000 insurance employees, although those interviewed did not encompass the broking community.