12 \\\\\ OPINION
“Poor behaviour or traditional types of behaviour that we’ve been used
to are no longer appropriate.” Inga Beale, Noringa Consulting
to be the most informed they can be when they are taking
out insurance products and that they think about that in the
context of their financial lives.
These are just a few of the recommendations in the detailed
report; some will take longer to implement than others.
Sian Fisher, chief executive officer of CII and IWF executive
chair, says that one of the quick wins for insurers is to sign up
to the IWF pledges to support financial flexible working and
inclusive customers’ financial lives.
“The idea is that companies can sign up to the concept that
you should be treating customers in a way that works for them
thinking about their life circumstances, which is something
that doesn’t get much emphasis.
“On the other side, if you’ve got women as employees and
they’re subject to the same things as women in society, if you
want to encourage diversity and inclusion in the workplace,
then you’ve got the double win that you can think about
customers and think about your own employees in the same
way,” she says.
Fisher adds that most medium-sized companies now have a
“We’re saying ‘work with us’ to these diversity networks
because IWF now gives you something to work with your
One example Fisher highlights is for employers to advise all
female employees who are going on maternity leave to sign
up to the child benefit so they don’t lose out on pension
contributions, which reduces their overall pension fund.
Men are vital in improving gender equality. Fisher says that
one of the most effective ways to engage men with IWF and
other programmes is to get them to think about their own
“If someone thinks there is full equality, ask him what
subjects his daughter is doing at school and what is that likely
to lead to as a career?”
She adds that one of the pitfalls that often gets men thinking
is whether their wives have registered for child benefits and
the negative implications of not doing that for their pensions.
“A lot of them don’t realise that they might be losing
something through that.”
Portas adds: “Society is still catching up in terms of
acknowledging the gender pay gap. Nearly 50 years since equal
pay was introduced, just 57 percent of men and 78 percent of
women think gender pay inequality is very wrong and only 43
percent (38 percent of men and 48 percent of women) think
it is wrong for the average earnings of men to be higher than
These stubborn societal attitudes also play out in how people
behave at work. Beale points to ‘micro-aggressive’ behaviours
that stop people feeling they belong in the organisation. A
common example can be stereotypical or derogatory views
expressed as casual sexism.
“Micro-aggression is the latest hot topic; trying to
understand the behaviours that put people off wanting to
stay in the business,” says Beale.
“The insurance sector is doing better at recruiting and
appealing to women, but we’re not doing so well at keeping
them. It’s a behavioural thing that is also in broader society
when I hear some of the stories. I do get concerned that we
have a way to go.”
The efforts of Lloyd’s of London to tackle the “laddish”
culture that led to complaints of sexism and harassment have
had a high profile in the past year, including its ‘Speak Up’
campaign to call out bad behaviour.
Beale does not comment directly on her former employer
but says: “In any physical market, things are accentuated.
There’s an amazing cluster effect in insurance in London and
in the Lloyd’s market, whereas if you think about banking
or insurance in other countries you don’t have this physical
gathering of people. It gets more intense.
“But poor behaviour or traditional types of behaviour that
we’ve been used to are no longer appropriate. They’re very
prevalent in many workplaces, it’s a far-reaching issue.
“I feel optimistic because more consulting is happening on
diversity and inclusion. I’m amazed by the number of people,
both men and women, who want to do something about it,
and firms are spending money on it. There is enough activity
going on that it is going to make a difference.
“It feels very different from say five years ago in insurance.
We’re having conversations about it and we didn’t five years
ago, it is as simple as that.”
Portas adds that while the gender pay gap is not expected to
close until 2050, and pensions parity is quite a lot further off,
“more needs to be done to accelerate the change”, something
that is important for society as people in the UK move towards
living for an average of 100 years.
She points to the UK’s aging population, and the rise in
pensioners compared to people of working age. Women will
make up a greater proportion of pensioners as they have
greater life expectancy than men.
“IWF is an important societal issue that we need to tackle.
And we need to do it for the future of the next generation.
“It isn’t just a women’s issue, it is a societal issue. We
are creating a challenge for future generations if we don’t
address this.” ■
Insuring Women’s Futures Programme:
Diversity and Inclusion Report 2019 www.intelligentinsurer.com