The co-operative and mutual insurance sector has significantly higher numbers of women CEOs than stock companies, according to the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF).
In research carried out for this year’s International Women’s Day, ICMIF found that co-operative and mutual insurers – and particularly ICMIF member organisations – are leading the way in changing the insurance sector’s reputation as being a conservative industry run by groups of men with little involvement by women, particularly at senior levels. More and more women are leading mutual and co-operative insurers and playing a key role in growing the insurance sector globally, says the organisation.
ICMIF’s analysis demonstrates that nine of the largest 100 co-operative and mutual insurers in the world have women CEOs, while only one of the top 100 stock company insurers globally is led by a woman. And some regions feature significantly higher numbers of female CEOs in the co-operative and mutual insurance sector compared with the average. In Canada, for example, 27% of CEOs of mutual and co-operative insurers are women.
“I am not surprised that co-operative and mutual insurers are once again showing leadership, given our bone deep commitment to remain connected to and reflective of our stakeholders,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and chief executive the Co-operators (Canada) . “I do look forward to a time, however, when we can celebrate statistics across all geographies and industries that truly reflect parity.”
Hilde Vernaillen, director and chair of the management committee, P&V (Belgium), was also unsurprised by the statistics. “Our business model gives high importance to the development of people, all people in all their diversity,” she said. “Our business model recognises the richness of diversity, including gender diversity. Women feel comfortable to grow within cooperative and mutual organizations without constraints. They don’t experience the so-called ‘glass ceiling’. Women in our organizations feel highly respected in their function by colleagues.”
The mutual and co-operative model has been the fastest-growing part of the global insurance market since 2007, with a 30% growth in premium income during this period, compared to a 13.6% increase for the global insurance market as a whole.
Liz Green, ICMIF’s senior vice-president, commented: “Five of the nine largest co-operative and mutual insurers globally that have a female CEO are members of ICMIF and in total 14% of our member organisations are led by women. It is also very interesting to note that 70% of these female-led member companies have outperformed their local market over the last five years.”
According to ICMIF, the positive social impact of mutual and co-operative insurance is demonstrated by the sector employing over 1.1 million people across the world with over 950 million people being served as members or policyholders of mutual/cooperative insurers.