Insurance and long-term savings industry to lead a flexible working revolution with 27 firms signing up to new campaign

28 April 2021

New research reveals women make up 58% of sector entrants but only 24% of executive teams

The insurance and long-term savings sector will today launch the biggest ever expansion of flexible working with 27 firms signing up to a new Charter.

Companies across the sector have committed to opening up the majority of their roles to flexible working, job sharing and part-time working by signing the Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) Making Flexible Work Charter, the first of its kind in the UK Financial Services sector.

The Making Flexible Work campaign aims to attract and retain the best talent from all backgrounds to the sector, respond to the changing expectations of all employees and firms post-pandemic, as well as improve gender equality. Recent data from the Government Equalities Office shows that nine out of ten jobseekers are looking for greater flexibility.

It coincides with the publication of new industry research that shows despite more women than men joining the insurance and long-term savings sector, they are under-represented in the Board room and in executive teams. The research, collected from 31 ABI members across the long-term savings and general insurance sector, reveals:

• While 58% of entry-level employees were women in 2020, women make up only 27% of Directors and 24% in executive teams.
• There is a range of performance across individual firms. While across the industry 24% of executive team members are women, for around a sixth of firms this figure remains below 10%.
• In 2020 women make up 29% of those at Board level industry wide (up from 25% in 2019 and 19% in 2017). However, 2020 data also shows that women make up less than 20% of board members in a fifth of firms.
• The average gender pay gap (median) across companies remains at 23% with the average bonus gap at 50%.
• Only 61% of insurance and long-term savings firms offer job sharing opportunities. While 100% of firms offer part-time roles, only 15% of employees take this up and of those who do, only 13% are men.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the way we work, and employees increasingly expect flexible working to be offered as the norm.

Firms who have signed the Charter, along with the ABI, have committed to:

• Making it clear – publishing details of their flexible working policy so that it is publicly available for employees and prospective candidates alike.
• Making it possible – advertising the majority of roles as being open to flexible working, including part-time working (if appropriate) and / or as a job-share if the role is full-time.
• Making it happen – putting in place processes and guidance to support and promote different forms of flexible working, including job sharing.

Signatories need to achieve these commitments within 12 months of signing the Charter.

The commitment to this Charter will allow the industry to attract and retain the very best talent while supporting more women to progress into senior roles, building on existing ABI research and industry initiatives on transparent parental pay and leave and returnships.

Amanda Blanc, Group CEO Aviva and HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Champion, said:
“There are still too many barriers which stop women progressing in insurance. As an industry we need to do more, and do it quicker, to make the changes we all want to see. Flexible ways of working is one way, but it needs to be available to everyone. The pandemic has shown us the value of flexible working, but to truly level the playing field at the office and at home, both men and women should feel able to work flexibly.”

Yvonne Braun, Executive Sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion at the Association of British Insurers said:
“The insurance and long-term savings industry is no longer sitting on the fence about the benefits of flexible working for all staff. Today’s announcement represents one of the biggest ever commitments to increasing flexible working in financial services. By joining the Making Flexible Work campaign, firms will tackle the gender seniority gap and be able to attract and retain the brightest and best talent in our industry.
“Our new research reveals steady improvement, but we need to accelerate the pace of progress in the sector. The data shows that while some firms have raced ahead, others have only just begun to make headway in improving diversity. The launch of today’s campaign and charter will ensure we go further and faster in making our sector more representative and help it win in the fierce battle for talent.”