Swiss Re publishes new research on gender diversity in the (re)insurance industry

18 February 2021


Women’s representation in leadership positions in the (re)insurance industry is improving, but progress is slow, according to the Swiss Re Institute, the research arm of ICMIF Supporting Member Swiss Re.

The research in Swiss Re Institute’s expertise publication Gender diversity in the re/insurance industry: for a sustainable future finds that women represented about a fifth of (re)insurance company executives in 2019 and only 10% of CEOs. It finds 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

Swiss Re’s 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, Swiss Re’s 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.

Inclusion and diversity: the power of we

The research was launched during Swiss Re Institute’s first dedicated inclusion and diversity (I&D) event which took place on 11 February. The insightful discussions during the event centered around benefits for companies and societies of enhanced I&D initiatives. The business case, no less than the human case, for I&D in our post-COVID world is strong.

Click here to download a copy of the Swiss Re Institute publication Gender diversity in the re/insurance industry: for a sustainable future.

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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