This year at the football World Cup we heard more female commentators voicing their opinions on the beautiful game than ever before. A woman sat on the Croatian bench at England’s losing semi-final match and many women came out and admitted to not only liking the game but also understanding the offside rule.
For many this was progress, showing that women were becoming accepted into the sporting arena, which had previously been a man’s world, and leading the way for other sectors to follow.
Unfortunately, the insurance sector doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo. When the British Insurance Brokers’ Association recently posted a photo of an all-white, all-male large brokers’ advisory board, former Axa UK and Ireland CEO Amanda Blanc took to Twitter to voice her frustration.
Biba was quick to say the picture didn’t represent its efforts on diversity but a look at its and the Association of British Insurers’ main boards shows the problem is inherent in the industry. Meanwhile in 2017, the insurance and financial services sector had a mean gender pay gap of 25.9%.
Many in the sector have signed up to the Women in Finance charter and diversity and inclusion is in Biba’s manifesto but it seems the ship is slow in turning.
In fact there is a fear that reporting is getting worse instead of better in the short term and that junior members of staff feel uncomfortable because of a lack of diverse peers and role models.
Insurance is not the only industry facing this issue, with London Fire Brigade commissioner Dany Cotton recently criticising the summer’s biggest viewing draw Love Island for its portrait of firefighters as butch sex objects rather than a career which could appeal to women. According to the BBC, Cotton said “offensive” stereotypes discouraged young women from joining the service, an issue insurance also faces.
With the insurance sector starting a new page as its qualification body, the Chartered Insurance Institute, moves from its long-term historical home, thoughts have turned to the possibility of an insurance museum to house the many artefacts the new building won’t have space for. Questions have been raised over what might appear there but I fear the sector itself risks being consigned to history if it doesn’t seriously address its diversity issues as a matter of real priority.
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