Protection advice firm LifeSearch has joined 26 financial services firms in signing up to a new Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) charter aimed at increasing flexible working to improve diversity and equality within the sector.
Aviva, Allianz, AXA, Bupa, MetLife, LV=, Royal London and Sun Life Financial are among 27 firms from the insurance and long-term savings industry joining the ABI’s Making Flexible Work Charter.
The charter launch coincides with the publication of research that shows despite more women than men joining the insurance and long-term savings sector, they are under-represented in the boardroom and in executive teams.
The research, collected from 31 ABI members across the long-term savings and general insurance sector, shows while 58% of entry-level employees were women in 2020, only 27% of directors are women and just 24% of executive team members are women.
However, for around a sixth of firms’ executive teams, this figure remains below 10%.
While in 2020 women made up 29% of those at board level industry wide (up from 25% in 2019 and 19% in 2017), the data also shows that women make up less than 20% of board members in a fifth of firms.
The average median gender pay gap across companies remains at 23% with the average bonus gap at 50%.
Just 61% of insurance and long-term savings firms offer job sharing opportunities and while 100% of firms offer part-time roles, only 15% of employees take this up and of those who do, only 13% are men.
Attract and retain diverse talent
The Making Flexible Work campaign aims to attract and retain the best talent from all backgrounds to the sector, respond to the changing expectations of all employees and firms post-pandemic, as well as improve gender equality.
Firms who have signed the charter, along with the ABI, have committed to publishing details of their flexible working policy so it is publicly available for employees and prospective candidates alike.
They will also advertise the majority of roles as being open to flexible working, including part-time working where appropriate, and / or as a job-share if the role is full-time.
And they will put in place processes and guidance to support and promote different forms of flexible working, including job sharing.
Signatories must achieve these commitments within 12 months of signing the charter.
The full list of signatories includes Admiral, Ageas, Aioi Nissay Dowa Europe, Allianz Insurance, Aviva, AXA XL, Bupa, Carpenters Group, Covea, DAC Beachcroft, Direct Line Group, Ecclesiastical Insurance, Esure, Flood Re, HDI Global, Life Search, Lloyds Banking Group, LV= General Insurance, MetLife Group, Nest, Phoenix Group, QBE UK, RGA UK Services, Royal London Group, Sun Life Financial of Canada, Wesleyan Assurance Society and Zurich Insurance.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Amanda Blanc, group CEO at Aviva and HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Champion, said: “There are still too many barriers which stop women progressing in insurance.
“As an industry we need to do more, and do it quicker, to make the changes we all want to see. Flexible ways of working is one way, but it needs to be available to everyone.
“The pandemic has shown us the value of flexible working, but to truly level the playing field at the office and at home, both men and women should feel able to work flexibly.”
Yvonne Braun, executive sponsor for diversity and inclusion at the ABI added: “The insurance and long-term savings industry is no longer sitting on the fence about the benefits of flexible working for all staff.
“Today’s announcement represents one of the biggest ever commitments to increasing flexible working in financial services. By joining the Making Flexible Work campaign, firms will tackle the gender seniority gap and be able to attract and retain the brightest and best talent in our industry.
“Our new research reveals steady improvement, but we need to accelerate the pace of progress in the sector. The data shows that while some firms have raced ahead, others have only just begun to make headway in improving diversity.
“The launch of today’s campaign and charter will ensure we go further and faster in making our sector more representative and help it win in the fierce battle for talent.”
Labour markets minister Paul Scully added: “Flexible working has significant benefits for a wide range of people and can bring numerous benefits to employers, like increased productivity and motivation.
“The government has recently reconvened its Flexible Working Taskforce to provide advice as we work towards fulfilling our manifesto commitment to consult on making flexible working the default unless employers have a good reason not to.
“It’s great to see well-known firms recognising the positive impact of flexible working, and signing up to the Association of British Insurer’s innovative Making Flexible Work Charter.”