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Hiring for parity in Insurance. What’s the current situation, and what’s holding back change?

by Heat Recruitment

The UK’s insurance sector has a problem – one experienced by a majority of businesses in the UK. The employment gap between men and women.

According to recent research, the insurance sector is among the most profitable to the UK economy – adding more than £40bn per year and helping Britain thrive. According to that research the UK’s insurance sector, in terms of insurance and pension exports, was valued at over £32.5bn. This equates to more than double that seen by the US (just under 17.5bn), and far above Germany which exported just under £10bn.

So, with McKinsey releasing their latest research, showing that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry means”, why is more not being done by employers to generate parity and remedy the situation?

Huw Evans, Director General at ABI, the Association of British Insurers, confirmed: “The insurance and long-term savings industry is a jewel in the UK’s crown – leading the world in exporting insurance and pension services and helping Britain thrive. The sector provides hundreds of thousands of quality careers, three quarters of which are outside of London. Ensuring the continuing success of such a productive sector is something the UK representatives should have at the front of their minds.”

With the link between diversity, parity and profitability now a foregone conclusion, the current situation would seem to favour the inclusion of more female and ethnically diverse candidates. So, what’s holding back change?

PwC recently noted that, among co-founders and CEOs of InsurTech startups, too few women were taking up senior positions. Research from the organisation, titled “Mending the Gender Gap”, found that women held just 19% of senior positions overall within financial services firms. When board seats were considered, this dropped to 14%. For CEO roles, this was even lower – just 2%.

This was found to be consistent with information from the Chartered Insurance Institute, which identified that, of those with Associateship or Fellowship status, just 26% and 13% were women.

Despite this, the figures identify a growing trend of females entering, and succeeding in, the insurance industry. The issue is one of retained talent. Looking at the lower levels of any business, the gender parity issue will invariably become a non-issue. The problem comes from more senior roles.

Senior Executives within the insurance sector will have been hired many years prior, earning their places at the top of the company. Disappointingly, at the time these executives were brought on in the lower tiers, diversity was (generously speaking) a low priority.

Diversity does seem to be moving apace, but with a clear mismatch between the amount of staff in the lower and higher rungs of the insurance sector, it will take some time before new entrants to the industry are in a position to take the reins. Until then, businesses must maintain diverse hiring policies, equalise opportunities for promotions, and make sure the path is free of roadblocks.

 Heat Recruitment is a specialist in sourcing the best staff in the insurance industry. If you’re looking for your next challenge or are seeking to hire top talent, get in touch with our team today.

By James Gwyther