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

8 March 2021


On International Women’s Day 2021 (Monday 8 March), we are proud to share the fact that, of ICMIF’s 201 member organisations, 49 have a female CEO at the head of the organisation, so 25% of our mutual and cooperative members are led by a woman. The theme this year for IWD is “Choose to Challenge”.

Recent research by the Swiss Re Institute, the research arm of ICMIF Supporting Member Swiss Re, points to women’s representation in leadership positions in the general re/insurance industry improving, but they say that progress remains slow. The Institute’s research found that women represented about a fifth of re/insurance company executives in 2019 and only 10% of CEOs meaning that ICMIF members with 49 companies having women CEOs far exceed the levels seen in the general insurance sector.

Across the various regions the numbers of women CEOs of ICMIF member companies is split into 10 women CEOs in the Asia and Oceania region; 17 in Europe; 13 in Latin America; one in Africa; and the remaining eight are in the North American region.

The Swiss Re Institute says its belief is that gender diversity offers re/insurance companies an opportunity to strengthen governance, profitability and long-term sustainability. Its research finds that a more gender-diverse senior leadership team is associated with return on equity (ROE) outperformance in re/insurance companies.

The Institute also believes that now is a vital time for a strong focus on gender diversity when the COVID-19 pandemic is reversing some of the progress previously made in gender equality. The Institute notes that the crisis has increased issues such as women’s vulnerability to job loss, stress and infection. The drive to become more representative of the communities in which insurers and reinsurers operate is urgent with pressure coming from many stakeholders. The Swiss Re Institute acknowledges that it may not be easy for insurers to deliver quickly against the challenging targets set by governments and regulators in various countries but their analysis indicates that it brings compelling rewards.

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.

Speaking on behalf of ICMIF, Chief Executive, Shaun Tarbuck said: “The high percentage of woman at the top of many cooperative and mutual insurers within the ICMIF membership 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 taking part in our virtual events currently and also in earlier face to face conferences held by ICMIF in previous years.

“Our business model recognises the richness of diversity, including gender diversity. The women leading our member organisations tell me they are able 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 Choose to Challenge,” 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.

Photo shows: Hilde Vernaillen, Chair of the Management Committee, P&V (Belgium) and ICMIF Chair, speaking at the ICMIF Biennial Conference 2019 which took place in Auckland (New Zealand), hosted by FMG.


For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub.

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