Cooperative and mutual insurers are leading the way in diversity with 50:50 gender balance for Americas Conference

Manchester, UK, 9 November 2018: 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.

The International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) has, however, worked hard for many years to offer an alternative to this stereotypical line-up 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.

This year, for the first-time ever, ICMIF has announced a 50:50 gender split of men and women on stage for one of its major conferences, the forthcoming ICMIF/Americas Conference. The ICMIF/Americas Conference takes place from 19-21 November 2018 in Cartagena (Colombia), hosted by ICMIF member Equidad Seguros. The event will see equal numbers of men and women participate in the agenda as speakers, panellists and moderators.

The theme of this year’s ICMIF/Americas Annual Conference will focus on how cooperative and mutual insurers can future-proof their businesses to ensure sustainable competitiveness and the ability to remain resilient in the ever-changing world of both today and tomorrow. The insights delegates can expect to gain from attending the Conference include how to embrace InsurTech and digital innovation; resilient operating models to ensure business continuity; new, inclusive insurance solutions for protecting underserved communities and uninsured risks; embedding sustainability into business activities; and key future strategies for a new era of cooperative and mutual insurance.

Earlier this year, another ICMIF member event the Annual Meeting of the Latin American Association for Reinsurance Education (LARG), 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.

The Latin American Association for Reinsurance Education (LARG) is a group of mutual/cooperative insurers from Latin America, all of which are members of ICMIF. The LARG concept was originally set up in 2004 by five ICMIF member organizations in order to purchase reinsurance collectively and the group has grown steadily since and now includes 14 member organisations. Of these 14 organisations, five are also led by women CEOs/General Managers.

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. But it was a younger cohort, 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).

The main purpose of the YLF is to provide learning and development opportunities for these future leaders within ICMIF members, by exposing them to wider issues affecting the insurance industry and by enabling them to understand the global reach of the mutual sector.

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.”

The mutual and cooperative sector represented 27% of the global insurance market in 2016, a significant growth in global market share compared to 24% in 2012. It wrote USD 1.3 trillion in insurance premiums in 2016 and held over USD 8 trillion in assets (2007: USD 5.9 trillion).



For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Liz Green, Senior Vice-President, External Relations, ICMIF, +44 7793 264 220

Alison Grant, Communications Manager, ICMIF +44 161 952 5078

About the global mutual and cooperative insurance sector

  • The mutual sector holds 26.8% of global insurance market share by premium.
  • Premium income was 1.3 trillion USD in 2016
  • In 2016 the sector’s assets were USD 8.3 trillion
  • Employment in the sector accounts for more than 1.13 million jobs
  • Over 990 million people are served as member/policyholders by mutual/cooperative insurers

About ICMIF (see

  • With its global headquarters in the United Kingdom and regional offices in the USA and Japan, today ICMIF represents 197 values-based insurers in 66 countries with over USD 232 billion in premium income and USD 1.7 trillion in total assets held.
  • ICMIF delivers unique networking opportunities, market and member intelligence and external relations services. It takes a strong lead in encouraging best practice amongst its member firms in key insurance issues, including; performance management, legal and governance, marketing, brand and reputation, reinsurance and social and environmental performance.
  • ICMIF is active in the microinsurance and Takaful sectors, with Takaful providing Shariah-compliant risk amelioration products to Islamic markets
  • Follow ICMIF on Twitter at @ICMIF_Web
  • Follow ICMIF on LinkedIn at:
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