Co-op insurers lead the way on gender diversity in top roles

Gender diversity has greatly improved in the mutual and co-operative sector over the last decade, says a report by the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF). The...

Gender diversity has greatly improved in the mutual and co-operative sector over the last decade, says a report by the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF).

The percentage of women on the boards of directors of ICMIF member companies rose to 20.6% in 2015 and almost doubled from 11% in 2005, beating the insurance industry average of 17.8%. In 2012, the organisation published a report that found 14.3% of its members’ directors were women, compared to 11.5% in 2005.

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The latest report, based on data from 2015, says almost a half (48%) of those companies had three or more women directors, nearly thrice the industry average of 17%. There was a slight rise in the percentage of female senior executives (27%, compared to a quarter in 2010).

ICMIF also reported a rise in the average proportion of women on boards at member companies in all major regions. Latin America experienced the greatest increase – more than 90% of companies had at least one woman director on their board, compared to 25% in 2005.

Shaun Tarbuck, ICMIF chief executive, praised the sector’s “commitment to addressing gender imbalance and promoting diversity”.

He added: “The co-operative and mutual insurance sector has long known what the rest of the insurance industry has been slow to realise: that the best boards for insurance companies are more diverse boards, and that the most effective senior management teams are the more diverse ones.

ICMIF's chief executive Shaun Tarbuck praised the position of mutuals and co-ops on gender equality isuses
ICMIF’s chief executive Shaun Tarbuck praised the position of mutuals and co-ops on gender equality issues

“These trends are very encouraging, and while there is still a lot of work to do by the insurance industry in general in terms of gender parity in executive management, our sector is certainly leading the way.

“These companies with a high proportion of women on their boards and women in senior executive positions have been proven to perform better, not only financially in terms of growth, efficiency and profitability, but also in terms of instilling a culture of inclusion within their respective insurance companies, which in turn, is transferred to the customer in terms of better service and engagement from their employees of all gender.”

Research by ICMIF for International Women’s Day 2016 showed that just one of the 100 largest stock company insurers was led by a woman, compared to nine of the 100 largest co-op and mutual insurers.

Headquartered in the UK, ICMIF represents over 230 “people-centred insurers” in more than 70 countries with over $270bn in premium income.

It helps to grow its mutual and co-operative insurance member organisations by influencing global issues, creating networking opportunities, and sharing the latest market and member intelligence.

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