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Closing the Gender Pay Gap in Insurance

03 May 2018

by Jessica Williams

The Insurance Insider has revealed that the UK insurance sector's average gender pay gap is 31.2 percent – 23% more than the average median pay gap for the private sector. Inequality is poorer at P&C specialty carriers than general insurers, and worse than the financial services sector as a whole, which pays men 22.2% more on a median hourly pay basis. The report represents the culmination of an issue that has been on the minds of every major insurer since news of the declaration deadline first came to light.

CEOs are already pledging flexible working and mentoring for women, but the challenges are more deep-rooted than this. “In a market where all but one insurer reported that they paid men larger bonuses – some by an average of 90% – I believe there is a long-standing culture of gender bias at play, which companies must address internally and externally,” comments Sarah Coombs, Group Client Engagement Manager at Oliver James Associates. “This market is dealing with a complex set of issues, including the dynamic created by higher occurrences of men in well-paid technical, front-line sales and distribution roles. Combined with the fact that there are fewer women in senior and management positions, it is clear insurers need to view this trajectory from a systemic standpoint.” 

With this issue so prominent in the public consciousness, it is vital that each business operates a policy of transparency when discussing their gaps. They should explain the narrative behind their figures, as well as plans to action improvements. A major focus for many insurers will be to achieve more balanced shortlists and to improve the diversity of their talent pipelines

“Of course, it is not all doom and gloom in the market. We are pleased to hear of initiatives such as Aviva’s Shared Parental Leave and Prudential’s Career Returners programmes. Highlighting positive agendas for our consultants and candidates helps to raise awareness of the steps being taken by market-leading brands to improve the situation,” notes Sarah.

Understanding the plight of the insurance sector, we are committed to improving gender parity for our clients, while also ensuring that we are where we need to be as a business. Internally, Oliver James has implemented several initiatives to increase parity within our own leadership team. Since 2017, we have achieved a 54:46 split of male to female managers.

Externally, we aim to provide career advancement opportunities without barriers for all. Our approach encompasses:

  • Practical, unbiased advice on career advancement strategies for all candidates, regardless of gender or any other demographics
  • Transparency of market-wide career progression opportunities
  • Data and analysis of talent pools, reviewing gender demographics and recommending opportunities to attract more candidates
  • Shortlist diversity analysis to enhance tracking throughout the recruitment pipeline
  • Candidate education on client D&I policies and inclusive working practices
  • Advice on how clients can remove barriers or factors that would discourage candidate applications
  • Client workshops and seminars to raise awareness on key strategies and equip clients with useful tools to improve talent attraction, engagement and progression.

We are also continuing our global sponsorship of Dive In Festival to support the improvement of talent Diversity and Inclusion across the international insurance industry, as championed by Inclusion@Lloyd’s.

For more information on the role of D&I in the insurance sector, please contact Sarah Coombs, Group Client Engagement Manager, on +44 (0) 203 861 9197 or

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