In September this year, the great and the good of the insurance market gathered in Lloyd’s of London’s Old Library and launched a campaign in support of gender equality across the insurance profession.
It’s fair to say insurance isn’t often seen as the first to adopt many new initiatives, but this was the first time that a single profession had joined up to support the global campaign initiated by UN Women. The campaign is all about giving everyone a voice and a platform to speak out in support positive change on behalf of women.
Read on to find out more about the important work the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) are undertaking.
It’s a very simple concept: anyone can make a difference, however big or little, simply by speaking up. Whether you’re a CEO who can drive direct change in the way your organisation recruits and develops women, or you simply want to make sure that your own children are brought up without gender stereotypes; by sharing these commitments we’re developing a common language and aspiration that will lead to women feeling that the insurance profession really understands and looks after their needs.
We’ve created a website where you can make your own personal commitment and share it to inspire others to follow: www.insuringwomensfutures.co.uk/heforshe
So why is the CII leading this initiative? It’s part of our public interest agenda, enshrined in a royal charter to “secure and justify the confidence of the public” in insurance. Getting involved in the HeForShe campaign is part of a wider programme of activity that we are calling Insuring Women’s Futures (IWF). IWF is about helping the insurance profession collectively to better understand women’s risks in life, so we can develop products and services that suit the needs of women as consumers and buyers of insurance will help us to do just that.
While IWF is clearly focused primarily on the needs of women (they are 50% of the population after all), this initiative has the potential to expand into other diversity groups once we have made successful progress on meeting the needs of women. We may even change the initiative to ‘Insuring Futures’ to reflect the needs of the whole of society.
Women are in the middle of a perfect storm (more so than men). State provision of support is unsustainable and is changing, especially as people live longer. This exposes women given that they are likely to outlive men. At the same time, employer provision is on the whole rolling back. Benefits and pensions are on the whole less generous than in the past. The onus is increasingly on the individual. Changes to family structure and a more mobile population are also leading to increased risk exposure. Women feel the force of this – they are paid less; take career breaks (stifling progression); and the burden of care (young and old) falls primarily upon them. It’s on us as the insurance profession to help women navigate this storm.
To take research to action the CII agreed to host the IWF programme and we have had amazing market support. We have established three workstreams to achieve the overall goal:
- Women At Risk brings together all the existing research and relevant data sources on women’s health, longevity, finances, domestic situation, behavioural approach to risk and consumer psychology to create a clear holistic picture of the main risks faced by women at different stages in their lives, and the situations that are likely to enhance or reduce their resilience to shocks;
- Women As Risk takes that holistic view and engages with a task force of representative organisations from across the market to develop an action plan to address the gaps in cover, advice, education, awareness or access;
- Women In Risk recognises the fact that to answer the needs of a market, we first need to think and act like it, and as a profession, insurance still has some way to go in achieving gender equality. It’s about improving the profile of women in the profession, in particular increasing the number of women at senior levels and in business roles, building the pipeline of younger career women in the profession, and making the profession more attractive to new female talent.
The HeForShe campaign demonstrates that the insurance profession sees the opportunity for positive change. Next, we need to focus on making that change benefit the whole of society.