The number of women on executive teams in the insurance industry has grown by a fifth, according to the Association of British Insurers.
According to the ABI’s second annual talent and diversity survey, women now make up 27 per cent of employees at executive level compared with 22 per cent in 2017.
Women also account for 39 per cent of employees at management level in the insurance industry, up from 36 per cent in the previous year.
However, the number of women at board level has remained stagnant, increasing just 1 per cent in 2018 with women still accounting for merely one in five jobs.
Huw Evans, director general of the ABI, said: "Improving diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry is a key priority for the leadership of the sector.
"To make meaningful progress, firms first need to know where they stand. Let’s hope these early signs of progress on gender equality are just the start."
But he added: "Insurers know that becoming a fully diverse and inclusive industry requires firms to have a strategy and to make changes – simply having positive intentions won’t wash."
According to the research there has been an increase in the number of insurance firms that have an executive sponsor for diversity and inclusion, while 78 per cent now have inclusive recruitment practices in place.
Amanda Blanc, chair of the ABI and CEO EMEA for Zurich Insurance Group, said: "The vast majority of adults in this country are customers of the insurance and long-term savings industry in some way.
"Matching the diversity of our workforce to the diversity of the communities we serve is essential to our industry’s future success.
"Such a change takes time, but the last few years have seen a real shift in commitment at the highest levels of the industry, and at last there are signs the dial is starting to shift."
She added: "Gender equality is only one aspect of diversity but I am encouraged to see growth in female representation at manager and executive levels, and more women than men continue to join the industry.
"This progress needs to be repeated, year after year, if the industry is to become truly diverse. And where we make progress on gender, we must scrutinise what is working and why so we can improve diversity across the board – on sexuality, on ethnicity and more."
To celebrate companies and individuals in the financial services industry who are striving to make their workforce more inclusive, Financial Adviser has developed the Diversity in Finance Awards.
The awards focus on individuals that have demonstrated their support for minority groups and promoted and inspired those who are otherwise under-represented.
Patrick Connolly, chartered financial planner at Chase de Vere, said: "It is good news that companies are taking steps to ensure that we see progress on diversity and the results of this research suggest this is already having a positive effect.