On International Women’s Day ICMIF and its members champion gender equality

Friday, 06 March 2020

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020 (Sunday 8 March), the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) is proud to affirm its commitment to this year’s theme: I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.  

International Women’s Day 2020 is a day when both individuals and organisations of all sizes affirm their support for #GenderEquality. A more equal world is a better world and ICMIF and its members are working to forge a more gender-balanced world and the Federation celebrates women's achievements within our membership and we take action for equality.

ICMIF research champions the mutual sector’s diversity

Research carried out by ICMIF on gender diversity at board, CEO and senior management level in recent years demonstrated how cooperative and mutual insurers – and particularly ICMIF member organisations – are leading the way in diversity. Increasing numbers of women are leading mutual and cooperative insurers and playing an important role in growing the insurance sector globally.

The ICMIF Members’ Governance report, published in 2017, noted that the percentage of women on the boards of directors of mutual and cooperative insurers rose to 20.6% in 2015, compared to an insurance industry average of just 17.8%. This represented a significant growth for the mutual and cooperative sector over the previous 10 years, having increased from an average representation of women on boards of 14.3% in 2010 and an almost twofold increase from 11.0% in 2005.

Speaking on behalf of ICMIF, Chief Executive, Shaun Tarbuck said: “The high percentage of woman at the top of cooperative and mutual insurers shown by ICMIF’s research is no surprise. Our business model gives high importance to the development of people in all their diversity. This is also borne out by the positive diversity we are seeing at our events amongst both on stage line-ups and delegates.

“Our business model recognises the richness of diversity, including gender diversity. The women leading our member organisations tell us they feel comfortable to grow within cooperative and mutual organisations without constraints. They don’t experience the so-called “glass ceiling” and say they feel highly respected in their function by colleagues. Gender balance is essential for businesses and communities to work and this International Women’s Day I am proud to say that here at ICMIF we will continue to do all we can towards truly making a positive difference for women, staying true to this year's theme of Generation Equality,” Tarbuck concluded.

More balanced representation at ICMIF events

Over recent years, agenda planners here at ICMIF have worked hard to offer alternative, more gender balanced speaker line-ups for our major conferences and events when compared  to the stereotypical speaker line-up of years gone by which were usually dominated by men. The ICMIF Biennial Conference in Auckland in November 2019 was close to an even gender split with 20 women speakers compared to 26 men.

In 2018, ICMIF announced a 50:50 gender split of men and women on the agenda for the first-time ever at one of its major conferences, the ICMIF/Americas Conference which took place in November 2018 in Colombia, hosted by ICMIF member Equidad Seguros. The event saw equal numbers of men and women participate in the agenda as speakers, panellists and moderators.  

Earlier in 2018, another ICMIF member event the Annual Meeting of the Latin American Association for Reinsurance Education (LARG) which took place in Panama, saw women overtake men in the agenda with 15 women speakers/panellists/moderators compared to 12 men.

At a time when the insurance industry is struggling to attract ‘up and coming’ millennials, opportunities to attend global industry-leading events such as the ICMIF Biennial Conference enable and empower both men and women, in equal measures to climb the career ladder. In 2019, at the ICMIF Biennial Conference in New Zealand the Federation offered a Young Leaders Programme for the second time at the biennial event. This time we saw a 50:50 split of men and women attend the Programme. The Programme was put together for millennial/Gen Y professionals from ICMIF member companies who have been identified by their senior managers as strong candidates to become future leaders within their organisations.

“Twenty-six companies from 12 countries sent Young Leaders to participate as delegates, and one of the threads running through the whole Conference was the need for mutuals and cooperatives to develop the next generation of talent,” says ICMIF Vice-President - Business Intelligence, Ben Telfer. “The young leaders’ attendance was embraced by the CEOs and senior executives who attended and their presence added to the diversity of thought at networking events and discussions. I was delighted to see such an equal diversity split amongst the participants too.”

ICMIF also has a well-established and very active Young Leaders Forum (YLF) for these millennial/Gen Y professionals. The gender split of the Forum is nine women to six men based on current membership (March 2020).

On Thursday 17 March, the Young Leaders Forum will host an ICMIF Webinar entitled The future of mutuality. The webinar will feature three panellists all of whom attended the Biennial Conference last year. In the webinar, the panellists will discuss the key themes of the Conference and share their learnings, providing their own perspective on some of strategic issues and emerging trends that are currently high on the agenda of many of the CEOs and senior leaders in our sector. The topics that will be shared during this webinar include embedding operational agility and innovation; operating as responsible businesses and integrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); shifting from protection to prevention; and leveraging digital technology to enhance customer experience and strengthen customer relations. The presenters are: Tamara Van Weverberg, Market Research and Customer Insights Expert, P&V (Belgium); Phillippa Joll, Manager Lifestyle Acquisition, FMG (New Zealand); and Liz Carraro, Director, Digital Strategy + Partnerships, Securian Financial (USA). Learn more about the webinar and register here.

About International Women’s Day

International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.