Amanda Blanc calls out lack of diversity on Biba advisory board

Amanda Blanc

Exclusive: Former Axa UK CEO Amanda Blanc has hit out after the British Insurance Brokers Association tweeted a photo of an all-white, all-male Large Brokers’ Advisory Board.

The board is selected by Biba, which issues invitations to potential attendees.

Blanc, who is currently on gardening leave, told Post that she was not criticising Biba specifically, but believes that more needs to be done to promote diversity.

“I’m not doing this to be controversial. I’m just doing it to speak out,” Blanc told Post.

She said: “It’s a case of saying: Where are the women there, where is the diversity there? It is not a criticism of Biba. It is just calling it out. What are we supposed to do, just sit quietly and hope it changes? I find it extraordinary. When I saw it, I thought it can’t be right. It is 2018.

“What would you do if that were you? If you sat around that room and want the ideas that you sought and you want a range of views, and you want people to be contributing and you want to look at the number of people in the industry that work for you and you want to say that they represent me. What would you do?

“They obviously thought it was ok to put that picture out there and say: ‘Here we are, representing large brokers’. I just find it amazing.”

Blanc’s tweet read: “Nice #diversity #BIBA - do you need Twitter to supply you with some names? We all need to help turn pledges into actions…”

Women must step forward

Blanc is an advocate of diversity and inclusion. She has recently blogged about the need for women to put themselves forward.

Talking to Post, she expressed frustration that senior women, as well as men, were not doing more to be visible and make their views heard.

She added: “I’m sat there thinking: ‘I don’t think that’s right. There must be women brokers who can sit around that table’. And if there’s not then that’s an even bigger issue."

When asked whether she had any recommendations for figures to join the board, Blanc declined to name names, saying it is Biba’s remit to select its board members.

She added: “It is not for me to say who is included. It is Biba who selects the people who attend their committees. You are telling me there is not a female broker? To my mind, I am not just putting this on men, I am putting this on the women as well. Why aren’t they stepping forward and saying: ‘I want to be on that committee. I want to be there’?”

Biba responds

Although there are no women depicted in the tweeted image, Biba has said that there are females on all its committees and boards.

Responding to the backlash, Biba CEO Steve White told Post: “Biba takes diversity and inclusion very seriously, our own senior management team is 50% female and there are females on every one of our committees and boards.

“Our advisory boards and committees are formed from employees of our member broker firms put forward to shape the work of Biba for the benefit of our members.  The committee members are nominated on the basis of their technical expertise, seniority and decision making ability and are a diverse representation of our membership as put forward by our members. 

"The fact that we are signatories to the Women in Finance Charter demonstrates that this is a matter we take seriously and is raised across our governance structure. As with the whole of the insurance sector we recognise that there is still work to do and we are committed to doing it.”

Earlier this week, Biba signed the Zurich and Lloyd’s-founded Inclusive Behaviours Pledge.

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