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Recruiting a better gender balance at Aon

Category: testimonial, Recruitment, Aon, women in insurance, Career Development, inspirational women, Insurance, Staff Networks, Staff Testimonial, career, Career Advice, career progression, celebrating women, staff network group, career journey, career for women, successful women, career path, Career experience, Building a career, Influential women, career opportunities, International Women’s Day 2022

Gender Focus

Profile photo of Katy Hodgson


I grew up in a rural area in Carlisle, just north of the Lake District. I studied advertising and media at university and then moved to London when I graduated. I wanted to work in fashion until I realised, I wouldn't earn much money - so started looking around for something else.

I started working as an internal recruitment consultant for Robert Walters, who are well known in financial recruitment. Effectively, I was recruiting recruiters and assisting with anything else that came up internally. There were loads of training opportunities and I got to work with some inspiring female leaders. I even got to travel to Japan and train a recruitment team, which was amazing.

When I returned, I wanted to do something different - I moved over to Ernst and Young (EY) and got involved in strategic areas of the business. It was an exciting role - they invested a lot into inclusion and diversity, and that's where I got my first taste of working in Inclusion and Diversity (I&D). After a while, I wanted to manage my own team, so I moved to a private practice law firm called Fieldfisher where I covered a short-term maternity post managing their recruitment team. I'd worked in legal recruitment before and enjoyed it, but I also saw an opportunity to leverage some of the innovative best practice I'd learned at EY. It was a great opportunity and I absolutely loved it.

Moving into recruitment for Aon

After the end of the contract, I moved across to Aon, to lead a recruitment team focused on corporate services. The people development aspect of recruitment is something I've always really loved because I've been fortunate to have been sponsored and mentored by some great people throughout my career.

I wanted to make sure that people know I&D was a key area for me; something I was passionate about, so I asked if there was an opportunity for me to do similar work alongside my recruitment role. My manager suggested I build Aon's inclusive recruitment strategy for the UK!

I went on to Chair the UK Diversity Council, it was a great opportunity to build my network internally whilst supporting I&D initiatives, this led to an internal secondment. In 2020, I moved into the global Culture and Change team at Aon as Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Programme Manager. I acted as Strategic Partner to drive the global diversity agenda. I moved into that role just as the Black Lives Matter movement started to gain prominence. Companies were making anti-racism statements, and it was clear there was work for Aon to do to create a more equitable workforce and workplace.

Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

The new role involved Anti-Racism training, Diverse-focused sponsorship programmes in the US and the creation of a new global Allyship Toolkit. I  also developed inclusive recruitment training. My move was supported by senior leaders in our organisation who'd seen what I was capable of and had also seen me push for extra opportunities myself.

I became Global Head of Inclusive Recruitment in October 2021, and now I act as strategic partner to our global and regional leaders, driving our diverse recruitment strategy globally. I educate business teams and the talent acquisition team on the importance of building and maintaining diverse talent networks. I also get to shape training initiatives, ensuring that inclusive recruitment is embedded in every recruitment process, and that we have accountability around our hiring statistics.

It's an exciting time at Aon. We've just gone through a rebrand and restructuring. We need to innovate to grow, and ultimately, innovation comes from diversity of thought. The role that I'm in plays a key role in supporting the growth of the firm.

Recruiting a better gender balance at Aon

Improving gender parity is about best practice.  We empower leaders to recruit the most suitable, broad set talent, thinking about future planning and transferable skills, by expanding the profile of success we ensure we can attract, recruit and hire talent across all genders and other diversity demographics.

We have a good network of business resource groups  at Aon, who don't necessarily just link to recruitment efforts, but support an inclusive workplace. In the UK, we have Gender IQ, a colleague led network focused on supporting representation, education, promotion, and recruitment - they are a really engaged, passionate group of people focused on improving gender parity. They hold a lens up to our leadership team and make sure there's accountability. They also do wonders in terms of making people feel included.

We have hiring goals for gender representation within the organisation, especially at senior level. Our executive leadership teams are held accountable to the point that there is a bonus linked to performance in terms of hiring females at a higher level.  It's all very well people saying they commit to it but without a level of accountability, where is the focus on improving the statistics?

Last year we introduced our Inclusive Hire Accreditation, which is a learning toolkit to equip Aon colleagues with the tools they need to embed inclusion and diversity in every stage of the recruitment process. It comprises four modules:

  • Recognising and managing your own unconscious bias, which is a reflective module.
  • Unconscious bias in recruiting, which covers the ways we can mitigate bias through the recruitment process and what we need to be aware of.
  • Diversifying your interview panel - the practical steps to take and the impact of having a diverse hiring panel on the outcome of a hire.
  • Then there's an inclusive recruiting workshop - a guided tour through the entire recruitment process, from planning through to writing a job description, CV review, interview and hiring. It also covers onboarding, a key part of recruitment.

I&D is the golden thread that runs through each of those stages. Once a colleague has completed all four learning pieces, they officially have their inclusive hire accreditation, and they can proudly display it on their LinkedIn profile.

We have a great reporting facility, where we can look at the talent pipeline as it progresses along each stage of the recruitment process. The data is anonymised, but we can see the percentages of females at each stage of the process.  This data allows us to take proactive steps to improve representation during our recruitment processes.

Advice for people thinking of joining Aon

If you look at our jobs page, you'll find a pop-up linking to questions about what it's like to work at Aon. There are employees from around the world talking about our culture, being their authentic selves, and development opportunities.

From my own perspective, my career has developed quite quickly. I'm 33 and in a senior leadership position. I've moved up the career ladder quickly. I'm grateful for my opportunities and try to open doors for others.

Aon is an innovative organisation which welcomes creative, passionate individuals. Our values are to be committed, united and passionate, which not only links well to I&D but also encompasses what many job seekers are looking for; they want to be part of something with a good mission and strong direction. They want to feel like that they belong, that they can show up, be their authentic selves and be valued.

Katy Hodgson, Global Head of Inclusive Recruitment, Aon

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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 [email protected] for more information.

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