The time to act is now

Focusing on gender diversity makes good business sense

“At the rate at which we're going, we will reach the year 4000 before we reach gender parity”, stated Saadia Zahidi from the World Economic Forum in her preview of the 2010 Global Gender Gap Report.

Gender is one of the key areas addressed and supported by our Diversity & Inclusion initiative - that is also why Swiss Re was a sponsor of the conference ‘Closing the Gender Gap:  The Business Case for Organizations, Politics and Society’, hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US in partnership with World Economic Forum and Council of Women World Leaders.

The aim of the October 2010 conference was to explore the economic value for gender diversity and most importantly - to build the business case for closing the gender gap. A crucial factor in the business case is fostering a culture that is inclusive so that seeing women (and other diverse people) at the top becomes the norm rather than an exception.

The conference showed that there is a clear proven business case for gender diversity. It includes socio-economic aspects but also talks directly to business - having women on boards is related to the financial performance of companies and there is strong evidence for a diversity premium, with diverse teams performing better than homogenous teams.

Comments from Swiss Re representatives at the conference

The time to act is now”, said Nia Joynson-Romanzina, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion.  “We are losing out on a huge pool of talent if we don't fully exploit female talent. We have to take concerted action and challenge ourselves – both men and women alike. The key point is if we are a company where women can succeed, the whole company will succeed in the long run.”

Francesca Marc-Antonio, Head Global Broker Liaison Group and Head of Marketing US Broker, stated, "Through organising our own forum and attending other forums on the subject of Women in Leadership I have come to believe that to be a sustainable company, and really grow we need diversity of thought, which translates into being a true mix of people, at all levels, including the board.

Aileen Otero, Marketing and Communications, added that gender equality in top positions isn’t just about diversity. “It’s about making a smart business decision. Women bring to the table different qualities that contribute to the bottom line."

Published 10 February 2011

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