Gender diversity in the re/insurance industry: for a sustainable future
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Women's representation in leadership positions in the re/insurance industry is improving, but progress is slow. Swiss Re Institute research finds that women represented about a fifth of re/insurance company executives in 2019 and only 10% of CEOs. We find that insurance brokers have grown their share of C-suite level women the most, and reinsurers raised representation of women on company boards the most, over the past decade.
Gender diversity offers re/insurance companies an opportunity to strengthen governance, profitability and long-term sustainability. Our research finds that a more gender-diverse senior leadership team is associated with return on equity (ROE) outperformance in re/insurance companies. The benefits are strongest in those re/insurers that add one or more women to a leadership team of only men.
A focus on gender diversity is vital at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is reversing progress made in gender equality. The crisis is increasing women’s vulnerability to job loss, stress and infection, among others. The drive to become more representative of the communities in which they operate is urgent and pressure is coming from many stakeholders. While it may not be easy for insurers to deliver quickly against the challenging targets set by governments and regulators, our analysis indicates that it brings compelling rewards.
Re/insurance companies can strengthen their gender diversity strategies to increase women's participation on boards and executive teams. A successful approach includes measurable gender-specific hiring and promotion goals, support for women with career aspirations at all levels, including tools such as executive development programmes for women that help to create a pipeline of future leaders. Companies can also expand flexible working policies that enable all employees to balance work and family life. Combining such tools can build gender-diverse companies that attract and retain women in leadership roles and are sustainable for the long-term.