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Women in Finance Charter: Insurers are leading the charge

Huw Evans, Director General, Association of British Insurers Huw Evans, Director General, Association of British Insurers

HM Treasury has published a list of signatories to the Women in Finance Charter and I am pleased to see them say that the insurance and long-term savings industry is leading the charge.

Celebrating the Charter yesterday at an event with City Minister Harriett Baldwin and the initial signatories, it was good to see ABI members from across the industry signed up to this important initiative tackling a priority issue for business.

As proud signatories ourselves, the ABI has made a public commitment to take firm action on building a more balanced and fair industry by encouraging a greater degree of gender balance among our management team.

Women in Finance Charter Women in Finance Charter

Whilst improvement has been made on the representation of women on Boards since the Davies review, there is clearly much more to be done, and specifically, more to be done to promote gender balance at the senior executive level, as Jayne-Anne Gadhia’s report rightly highlights.

Below I outline some key points on our industry’s effort and how we move forward.

1. Fostering greater diversity is not a nice to have

The 72 signatories of the Charter have made a strong public statement that diversity is front and centre for business and not just a ‘HR issue’. There are studies that show a correlation between greater diversity and productivity and competitiveness. For insurers and long-term saving providers who play an important societal role in protecting and helping people invest for their futures, being able to better reflect our customer base and respond to their fast-changing and increasingly complex needs makes business sense. The many firms from our industry that have signed the Charter reiterate this and prove diversity is not just a ‘nice to have’.

The great representation of our sector in this first wave of signatories demonstrates the industry’s strong commitment to this issue.

2. Insurers are taking this seriously

The need to improve diversity increasingly features in many of the discussions I have with the leaders of ABI member companies – some the UK’s biggest insurers. A lot of them are taking bold steps to promote diversity and inclusion among their staff, such as voluntary publishing statistics on the numbers of the men and women they employ, as well as
taking action as shareholders to promote fairer practices in the companies they invest in. The great representation of our sector in this first wave of signatories demonstrates the industry’s strong commitment to this issue.

3. We have to lead from the top

Jayne-Anne Gadhia’s report, which outlined recommendations that underpin the Women in Finance Charter commitments, made it clear that executive accountability was key to improving the gender balance of management. It is therefore great to see many leaders from within and outside of our industry step forward and own this issue on behalf of their organisation. Like any other business strategy, efforts to improve diversity need to be lead from the top and reinforced at all levels throughout organisations. At the ABI we our using our Future Leaders programme (which had an equal number of male and females) to reinforce this for our industry’s next generation of leaders and with the Charter commitments, we are putting ourselves forward to be an example of best practice. The ABI will be publishing its specific commitments under the Women in Finance Charter in the coming months.

Huw Evans is Director General of the Association of British Insurers (ABI)

Last updated 03/08/2016