We are the voice of insurance and long-term savings | Contact us

Impatient for change

I’m not a stats person. I’m usually much more comfortable with words than I am with numbers, but working in an industry driven by data, I know the importance of hard stats to tell a story. And the ABI’s annual diversity data collection is fundamental to understanding and telling the story of diversity and inclusion in the insurance and long-term savings industry.

The 2019 results are in. And the figures show that progress is taking place at nearly all levels of the insurance industry. The proportion of women on executive teams has increased from 22 to 27% - 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. But progress at board level remains slow, with a negligible 1% increase and women still only accounting for one in five jobs.

While female representation is still too low, if the representation of women continues to increase by a fifth or even a third each year, then the goal of gender parity suddenly doesn’t feel too far away. And as anyone who has worked in campaigns know, change doesn’t happen overnight. Change happens after days, weeks, months and years of capitalising on every opportunity you have to highlight your issue and advocate for change. Change also doesn’t happen overnight in large, complex companies without a strategy and people in place to make it happen. Good intentions are not enough to see a shift on these issues. So, it is great to see that 76% of our members have a diversity strategy and 88% have an executive sponsor in place for diversity and inclusion.

Fundamental to improving

Representation at senior levels within the industry is ensuring women continue to progress if they take time off to have children. ABI research into the gender seniority gap shows that women who return to work part-time after having children, get stuck and do not progress.

As an industry, more must be done to support mothers – and fathers – to work flexibly and still progress. Which is why we are exploring the possibility of replicating the hugely successful Civil Service job share portal for the insurance and long-term savings industry - a key recommendation of our research.

So, while this year’s results show progress, it is no time to rest on our laurels. It was great to see such strong female representation at the panels of this year’s ABI Annual Conference – the idea of there being 4 women on a panel of 5 at a flagship industry conference is still unheard of in many sectors – but the lack of more diverse faces in the room was stark.

Progress on diversity must be maintained, and more importantly, extended to other issues such ethnicity and disability. If we are to remain a world leading sector and maintain our position as a great place to work, we must do more to ensure that we properly reflect the communities that we serve.  

Last updated 01/03/2019