Diversity and Inclusion  

How Zurich mirrors society

How Zurich mirrors society

The insurance industry is not known among the general public for being particularly diverse.

Indeed, three senior women - Tulsi Naidu, Amanda Blanc and Dame Inga Beale - all stand out, not least for being female.

Yet two of these women work, or have worked for Zurich - and Zurich itself has worked hard at creating a diverse workforce.

Article continues after advert

On the executive committee at group level, more than 25 per cent of the officers are female.

The roles they hold are: chief executive, North America; chief executive, Latin America; and chief executive Emea and bank distribution.

In the UK, Zurich is working hard on diversity and inclusion as well, and it is the role of its head of corporate affairs, Sophie Timms (pictured) to develop and implement Zurich UK's diversity and inclusion strategy.

Ms Timms says: “What we want to do is mirror more closely the society that we work for. We are improving but I think the industry has woken up to needing to do a lot more.”

Several pressures have forced the company to adapt, she says. “I think the need to do gender reporting has helped; there’s been a number of reports that have called for certain targets and certain reporting that have focused the mind.

Key points

  • Zurich UK is working hard on diversity and inclusion
  • It addresses diversity through a series of nudges and interventions
  • Its head of diversity also works on sustainability

“But at the same time, the industry doesn’t operate in a vacuum.”

Competitive pressures from fintech and insurtech businesses are forcing the bigger companies to change, and they bring diverse workforces and innovation to the sector.

“We have a changing workforce and changing demographics, and at the same time you have got this at the board level, and these two worlds have collided, to make it a really critical issue.”

Ms Timms was asked five years ago to look at the issue of the gender pay gap, as it became compulsory for employers with more than 250 staff to publish their pay statistics. But it soon became clear that the issue was much more complex and entrenched than a relatively simple gender pay gap.

“It became apparent that it’s not about an equal pay issue; it’s the number of women we don’t have at senior or technical roles.

“At entry level or junior management level it’s very equal numbers, but then suddenly something changes.”

It was not just a case of putting in a big strategy and making an instant change.

“Many companies and many sectors are looking for a silver bullet, but we found it was a series of nudges and intentions that was far more effective at moving the dial.”

Increasing flexibility

A simple, but effective adaptation was, from last March, to start advertising all roles as part-time or job share.