On International Women’s Day ICMIF members are leading the way in diversity

Friday, 08 March 2019

On International Women’s Day 2019 (Friday 8 March), we are proud to share the details of some of our work in the pursuit of a "Balance for Better" - the theme of this year's day. A balanced world is a better world and ICMIF and its members are working to forge a more gender-balanced world; we celebrate women's achievement and take action for equality.

The insurance industry has historically often been accused of being “stale, male and pale”; dominated by older, white men with speaker line-ups for insurance conferences and events in particular often very typical of this stereotype. On International Women’s Day 2019 (Friday 8 March), however, ICMIF is delighted to share some of the ways in which our Federation and our members are challenging these stereotypes and working towards a more balanced world which we believe will, in turn, give rise to a better world.

The International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) is committed to helping forge a more gender-balanced world; to celebrating women's achievements; to raising awareness against bias; and, wherever possible, taking action for equality.

Over recent years, the agenda planners for ICMIF conferences and events have worked hard to offer an alternative to the stereotypical line-up described above and has recently made great strides in providing a more gender diverse line-up of speakers, moderators and panellists for its many global conferences and events.

Last year, for example, 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 (pictured). The ICMIF/Americas Conference took place from 19-21 November 2018 in Cartagena (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), even saw women overtake men in the agenda with 15 women speakers/panellists/moderators compared to 12 men. The Annual Meeting of the Latin American Reinsurance Group took place from 25-28 September, in Panama City (Panama) with Seguros Fedpa S.A. as host.

In other areas of ICMIF’s activity, the Federation’s 2017 Biennial Conference saw a 28% representation by women on the speaker list and 30% representation by women on the delegate list. And it was a younger group, in the form of the inaugural ICMIF Young Leaders Programme, who came out on top in terms of gender diversity at this event with 49% of the Young Leader delegates being women.

At a time when the insurance industry is struggling to attract ‘up and coming’ millennials, opportunities to a global industry-leading event such as the ICMIF Conference enable and empower both men and women, in equal measures to climb the career ladder.

“Thirty-one companies from 16 countries sent their 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 has also established an ongoing Young Leaders Forum (YLF) for millennial/Gen Y professionals who have been identified by their senior managers as strong candidates to become future leaders within their organisations. The gender split of the Forum is seven women to five men based on current membership (November 2018).

ICMIF research champions the mutual sector’s diversity

Research carried out by ICMIF on gender diversity at board, CEO and senior management level last year demonstrated how cooperative and mutual insurers – and particularly ICMIF member organisations – are leading the way in diversity. More and more women are leading mutual and cooperative insurers and playing a key 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.

Just under 85% of ICMIF member companies had at least one woman director on their board in 2015 and impressively, 48% of companies had three or more women directors, a significantly greater percentage than the industry average of just 17% at that time. Download the report here.

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 me 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 balance for better,” Tarbuck concluded.

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.