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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Mutual and cooperative insurance boards lead on gender diversity

The percentage of women on the board of directors of mutual and cooperative insurers rose to 20.6% in 2015, compared to an insurance industry average of just 17.8%, according to the latest research published by the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF).

Women on board
Mutual and cooperative insurers have good representation of women on board of directors @Shutterstock

Commentating on the findings, Shaun Tarbuck, ICMIF chief executive, said: “The cooperative and mutual insurance sector has long known what the rest of the insurance industry has been slow to realise; that the best boards for insurance companies are more diverse boards, and that the most effective senior management teams are the more diverse management teams. The fact that ICMIF member companies’ boards have almost doubled their average female representation over a 10-year period highlights their commitment to addressing gender imbalance and promoting diversity.”

Just under 85% of ICMIF member companies had at least one woman director on their board in 2015 and 48% of companies had three or more women directors, a significantly greater percentage than the industry average of just 17%. This represents a sizeable improvement from 11 years ago, when only 56% of members had a women director on their board and fewer than 20% had three or more.
At CEO/senior management level, almost 27% of senior executives were women, compared to 25% in 2010. There has also been an increase in women being appointed as CEO at ICMIF members, as 18% of members were led by a woman CEO in 2015 compared to just 13% of members in 2010 and around 7% in 2005.
Tarbuck added: “While there is still a lot of work to do by the insurance industry in general in terms of gender parity in executive management, our sector is certainly leading the way. Companies with a high proportion of women on their boards and women in senior executive positions have been proven to perform better, not only financially, but also in terms of instilling a culture of inclusion, which in turn, is transferred to the customer in terms of better service and engagement.”