"Shoot the groper, not the messenger"

Former underwriter "telling it as it is" in piece on sexism at Lloyd’s

"Shoot the groper, not the messenger"

Insurance News

By Terry Gangcuangco

First there was the Bloomberg Businessweek bombshell that outed issues of sexual harassment at Lloyd’s of London; now there’s a new article pointing to sexism at the world’s specialist insurance market.

Evening Standard reporter Sophie Jarvis, who has had a taste of what it’s like being in the middle of the action at Lloyd’s, has written a piece sharing her experiences as a young female executive. The former Adam Smith Institute government affairs head previously served as a broking intern before working at the likes of The Channel Syndicate and MS Amlin.

“On my first day as an underwriter, aged just 19, I was told in no uncertain terms that heels, a dress, and plenty of make-up were pretty much compulsory if I was going to be a success,” shared Jarvis, who left the world of insurance in 2017.

“I remember once how a senior broker came to our box [at Lloyd’s] and declared: ‘All you women are good for is spending our money.’ I quipped back: ‘And writing your policies’. I was rather pleased at my speedy response, until my manager pulled me to one side for a rollicking: ‘If you don’t like that kind of joke, Lloyd’s isn’t for you.’ And that was from one of my few female bosses.”

She also cited the infamous drinking culture within the market, pointing to long lunches that usually involved booze. In April the rules for access to Lloyd’s premises were updated to ensure that passholders under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drug are not allowed entry during working hours.

Last month Lloyd’s also commissioned the Banking Standards Board to conduct an independent, market-wide culture survey until May 31. When the poll was announced, Lloyd’s chief executive John Neal said it would serve as a guide as they put in place further measures aimed at building a diverse and inclusive market in which everyone is respected and valued.

Meanwhile Jarvis ended her piece with these words: “I know some of my former Lloyd’s colleagues will complain that articles like this are deterring women from entering the market. That’s true, perhaps. But we’re only telling it as it is. Shoot the groper, not the messenger.”


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