Just when insurance thought it was rebuilding its reputation through events like the Dive In Festival and Insurance Business’s own Women In Insurance events, the industry has been slammed by a damning new report that describes the London insurance market as “the most archaic corner left in global finance.”
The report, published in Bloomberg Businessweek and written by Gavin Finch, points to a “deep-seated culture of sexual harassment” noting “inappropriate remarks to unwanted touching to sexual assault.”
It claims to have spoken to 18 women with more than 300 years of combined insurance experience – one goes as far as to say that “it’s basically a meat market” and that there is an atmosphere of “near-persistent harassment.” One points to a senior manager drunkenly attacking her in a pub and that her employer outlined that it would be a bad decision for her career to make a complaint.
Fears are growing that the efforts put in by Inga Beale – who we feature an exclusive interview with today – are in jeopardy. Indeed, Beale herself was trolled repeatedly with one comment being that she should stop talking about her bisexuality and that Lloyd’s should “fire this woman” who was then its CEO.
Mairi Mallon, an insurance PR specialist highlighted in a blog in 2017 that “women at Lloyd’s [are] still being called names including ‘totty’” and are rated from 1-10 on “shagability.” The report also speaks of underwriters competing to hire the most attractive female assistants.
In response to the report, the insurance industry has spoken out with many choosing to point to the advancements made in recent years. Sheila Cameron, CEO of the Lloyd’s Market Association, issued the following statement to Insurance Business.
“Sexual harassment is simply indefensible in any workplace and all instances should be dealt with swiftly and appropriately,” she said. “We, like all other industries facing this issue, must continue to deal with any reports of harassment, head on. Both victims and witnesses of any form of workplace harassment must be encouraged to come forward. Victims and witnesses must have confidence in the robust and fair processes and procedures put in place by the leaders of their companies, and those leaders have a responsibility to ensure their workplaces are safe from any form of harassment.
“In recent years the Lloyd’s and the London insurance market has taken enormous strides to advance the diversity and inclusion agenda, particularly through the annual Dive In festival, which attracts thousands of market practitioners to participate each year, as well as other important initiatives such as the Inclusive Behaviours Pledge, which was signed by a large number of insurers, brokers and market associations.”
Despite these efforts, however, the problems seem to remain.
As a result, we at Insurance Business are asking you to tell us your experiences – either through our comments section below or by emailing managing editor Paul Lucas direct with your experiences – [email protected]. You can indicate whether you prefer your responses to be on the record or kept anonymous. Please get in touch with your thoughts.