Does the industry do enough on gender equality?

Does the industry do enough on gender equality? | Insurance Business

Does the industry do enough on gender equality?
Only two insurance firms have been named on a list of the 106 best firms in Australia for gender equality.

The annual Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) employer of choice for gender equality citations were announced this week and for the second year running only Allianz and Suncorp made the cut.

The total number of citations bumped up from 90 last year, and 76 in 2014, to 106 this year – but only two insurers could crack the list. This poor result begs the question: does the industry need to do more to promote gender equality?

Charis Martin-Ross, head of diversity and sustainability at Allianz Australia, said that while only two firms had been granted the citation, the industry is heading in the right direction.

“I wouldn’t say necessarily that insurance needs to do more; I think we are seeing some really good practice in this space,” Martin-Ross told Insurance Business.
“The opportunity is actually for insurance companies to collaborate more. I don’t think this is an area where we need to compete.

“The more we can collaborate across the insurance industry, the better off we will be together.”

Ed Cooley, executive general manager of talent and planning for Suncorp Group, agreed that the industry on the whole is moving toward more gender equality and stressed that brokers play an important role in the diversification of the industry.

“The brokers play a very important role,” Cooley told Insurance Business.

“I’ve spoken at events for major brokers where they bring together their clients and other players in the industry and they are very useful forums for sharing best practice and for promoting the importance of gender equality.”

Both Suncorp and Allianz approach gender equality in different ways. At Allianz, which won a citation for the eighth consecutive year, women represent 32.5% of the senior leadership roles in the business. This is ahead of its target of hitting 40% by 2020.

Suncorp recruitment policies state that at least one male and one female be shortlisted for any senior management positions. Both firms invest in equality practices from recruitment through development.

Both Cooley and Martin-Ross noted that equality is about more than box ticking as gender diversity makes economic sense for all insurance businesses, large or small.

“It has to start at the top,” Cooley said on ways businesses can promote gender diversity.

“I think that if you go in with a mindset that there is a business reason for creating equality, it is not about social justice or not just the right thing to do; it is because businesses that take this seriously outperform businesses that don’t.”

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