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ABI & the Gender Seniority Gap: What Works for the Industry?

Category: Industry News

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Where are we?

  • Like many other sectors, there are fewer women than men at managerial level and above in the insurance and long-term savings industry.
  • Insurance and long-term savings does a good job of attracting women, but either loses them entirely or fails to promote them.
  • There is a wide variation between companies that are good at progressing women but may not necessarily have high senior female representation. There is no simple pattern of ‘good’ vs ‘bad’ performers in the industry.

Why aren’t there more women in senior roles?

  • The dominant reason for the gap is the ‘motherhood penalty’. Women are more likely to take on the bulk of the childcare responsibilities and work part-time, but once you work reduced hours it is unlikely that you will progress. You get stuck.
  • There is also an unconscious bias against mothers: they are regarded as less competent and committed than non-mothers. Whereas, fathers are perceived as more competent and committed than non-fathers.
  • There are still some factors that affect women progressing regardless of parenthood:
    - Women are less likely to negotiate/ask for promotion;
    - There is some unconscious bias towards women in general and not just mothers.

What can we do about it?

To reduce the seniority gap, we need to make it easier for part-time or formerly part-time employees to advance. This can be achieved by;

  1. Making more senior jobs available part-time;
  2. Having more flexible working practices advertised, encouraged and implemented;
  3. Making job shares easier and more attractive; and
  4. Developing advancement opportunities for women who worked part-time.

There are a range of behavioural interventions that help level the playing field on:

  1. Negotiation;
  2. Applications for jobs; and
  3. Systems that promote unconscious bias including on feedback.

Are companies doing the right thing?

Analysis of the gender pay gap reports in insurance and long-term savings and FTSE 100 companies found little correlation between the interventions companies use and the evidence for what works.

However, private evidence may be better. Many gender pay gap reports are very high-level, so it is difficult to know exactly what companies are doing and therefore whether it is likely to be effective.

You can learn more by listening to our podcast; which can be found here.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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Association of British Insurers

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