Co-ops among the world’s top female-friendly companies

Forbes magazine’s list features Desjardins Group, John Lewis Partnership, Unipol Group, Crédit Agricole and Crédit Mutuel

Forbes magazine has published a list of the world’s most female-friendly companies, which features four co-operatives, one employee owned enterprise and four mutual insurers.

Developed with the support market research company Statista, the ranking identifies the 400 enterprises excelling in championing women at work.

They include French mutual insurer MAIF on the third position, followed by Canadian financial service co-operative Desjardins Group, and employee-owned John Lewis Partnership in the UK.

Also on the list are Italian insurance co-op Unipol Group (31), French co-op banks Crédit Agricole (136) and Crédit Mutuel (200), and French mutual insurers Groupama (166), MACIF (174) and Covéa (295).

Desjardins, North America’s largest co-operative financial group, says the ranking shows its commitment to the advancement of women in the workplace. Around 59% of managers with the group are women. One of its initiatives aimed at advancing women in leadership positions is the Empowering Women network, which enables female employees and board members to help each other, forge new connections and develop new skills. 

“At Desjardins, we’re committed to creating an environment in which women are able to participate fully and grow within our organisation,” said Guy Cormier, president and CEO of Desjardins. “We’re extremely proud of this achievement, which confirms that we’re moving in the right direction to encourage women to achieve their full potential.”

Desjardins, MACIF and MAIF and the Unipol Group are members of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF).

Liz Green, executive vice-president at the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) said: “Congratulations to all our members featuring in this list and to other mutual/co-operative organisations who appear.”  

She added that ICMIF’s forthcoming Governance Report 2022 would show that ICMIF members have increasingly higher levels of diversity and representation by women at both board level and at CEO/senior management level with our members outperforming the insurance industry average.

“ICMIF’s research found that 27.8% of directors serving on ICMIF members’ boards were women and this is a substantial increase from 20.6% in 2015 and nearly double from 14.3% in 2011. ICMIF members were also ahead of the financial industry average of 23.3% women on boards in 2020 and the insurance industry average of 26% in 2019. The financial industry average for boards with at least 30% women was 34% in 2020, compared to ICMIF members, of which 44.8% had boards comprised of at least 30%.

“Over one third of senior management positions within ICMIF member companies were held by women in 2020. This is a remarkable growth from 2010 and 2005 research when our findings showed around a quarter of women held senior management positions and our 2020 findings are almost double the insurance industry average of 17% in 2019.

“The number of female CEOs at ICMIF member companies has increased from 18.1% in 2015 to 22.7% in 2022, a comparable amount of growth found in the last five year period report from 2010 to 2015 and well above the financial industry average of 6.9% in 2021 and the insurance industry average of 9.6% in 2019.”

This article has been amended on 11 November to include four other mutual insurers featured in the list.