ABI Highlights Increased Diversity in UK Insurance Sector

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Gender diversity has improved at nearly all levels of the insurance industry with the proportion of women on executive teams increasing by 5 percentage points, according to the second annual talent and diversity survey from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Although the number of women at senior levels still remains too low, women now make up 27% of people at executive level compared with 22% last year – equivalent to growth of around a fifth.  Improvements have also been made at management level, where women account for 39% of workers, up from 36% twelve months earlier. More women than men continue to join the industry at entry level. Progress at board level remains slow, however, with a negligible 1% increase and women still only accounting for one in five jobs.

The data collection is the most comprehensive look at the insurance and long-term savings workforce and covered more than 103,000 staff this year, an increase of more than 25% on the first survey. It is based on firms in ABI membership and does not cover insurance brokers.

The results of the research, published ahead of the ABI’s Annual Conference on Tuesday 26th February, also picked up changing trends in recruitment practices focused on increasing diversity. Other headline findings include:

  • 88% of firms have an executive sponsor for diversity and inclusion, up from 74% last year. A new question found more than half of responding firms had a member of the executive team specifically responsible for LGBT+ inclusion.
  • An increased use of inclusive recruitment practices, with the proportion of firms using diverse interview panels up sharply from 67% to 78%. More firms are also using blind CVs and gender balanced shortlists.
  • A small drop in BAME representation, from 15% down to 13%.
  • 61% of firms have a mentoring programme targeting workers who are underrepresented within the company.

Amanda Blanc, Chair of the ABI and CEO EMEA for Zurich Insurance Group, said:

The vast majority of adults in this country are customers of the insurance and long-term savings industry in some way. Matching the diversity of our workforce to the diversity of the communities we serve is essential to our industry’s future success. Such a change takes time, but the last few years have seen a real shift in commitment at the highest levels of the industry, and at last there are signs the dial is starting to shift.

“Gender equality is only one aspect of diversity but I am encouraged to see growth in female representation at manager and executive levels, and more women than men continue to join the industry. This progress needs to be repeated, year after year, if the industry is to become truly diverse. And where we make progress on gender, we must scrutinise what is working and why so we can improve diversity across the board – on sexuality, on ethnicity and more.”

Huw Evans, Director General of the ABI, said:

“Improving diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry is a key priority for the leadership of the sector. To make meaningful progress, firms first need to know where they stand. Our survey was established as a practical tool to support our members on this issue and to see so many more involved this time round is an endorsement of our approach. Let’s hope these early signs of progress on gender equality are just the start.

“Insurers know that becoming a fully diverse and inclusive industry requires firms to have a strategy and to make changes – simply having positive intentions won’t wash. Our diversity and inclusion network goes from strength to strength and our Future Leaders programme has more women on it than men for the first time. We remain committed to providing the practical assistance our industry needs to achieve genuine change.”

As well as the ABI’s annual survey of diversity in the industry, the association last autumn also published an independent report into ways of tackling the gender seniority gap, and has recently contributed to a government consultation on ethnicity pay reporting.

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