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Market at ‘pivotal moment’ on gender, racial parity: Neal

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When it comes to achieving gender and racial parity within Lloyd’s and the wider insurance market, there is “a lot more to do”, Lloyd’s CEO John Neal said in a panel earlier today at the 2022 Dive In Festival.

Neal was joined by Ann Haugh, CEO of Axis Re, and Lucy Clarke, president of Marsh Specialty and Global Placement, in this morning’s session, chaired by broadcast journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

“As leaders and organisations,” Neal said, “we've got to take the bold steps to help build a culture where everyone can see a place for themselves – from our hiring targets for women in leadership and ethnic minorities, right the way through to our market policies at work and the way in which we encourage global and local social mobility.

“Ultimately, that responsibility lies with every one of us. Targets, funding and leadership are all essential components but, in practice, inclusion is an everyday undertaking, driven by everyday actions.”

Neal added that he believes the industry is “at a pivotal moment”, largely spurred by the “long overdue discussions” that occurred in the wake of the death of George Floyd in 2020 and the outbreak of Covid-19, which permanently altered the working habits of many around the globe.

The Lloyd’s CEO also mentioned the “worse-than-expected” culture survey it conducted in 2019, which detailed how 8% of respondents had witnessed sexual harassment in the Lloyd’s market in the 12 months prior to the survey.

“Three years ago, we had a wake-up call from media coverage, highlighting unacceptable behaviour in our marketplace, and we sought to tackle those behaviours head-on,” Neal said.

“In the three years since, we've published three Lloyd’s market culture surveys, we've introduced a set of targets and programmes to encourage inclusivity, and we've taken decisive action where we've had to or it's been appropriate to do so and, indeed, where our standards have been breached.”

Neal noted that roughly 40% of the businesses (18) that Lloyd’s manage have met gender targets, while fewer (11) have met Lloyd’s ethnicity targets.

“We've made culture a gateway principle,” he said. “So, if you're failing in terms of the cultural actions that we would expect you to take, then you've got a limited period of time to sort yourself out.”

Haugh, who took up her role as CEO of Axis Re in June, said that while her company is working towards 50/50 gender parity, her direct team is “not nearly as diverse as it needs to be”.

Clarke noted the changes the market has already made to become more diverse: “We’ve made progress, but there’s a difference between relativities and absolutes.”

The panel then discussed how Covid-19 has made challenges people might have faced in the market a few years ago much easier.

“It sure is hard to come back to work when you’ve had a baby,” Clarke said. “Covid, and perhaps the advent of flexible working … having the ability to make your schedule work flexibly … could be transformational for us on the female issue.”

Recent analysis by Insurance Insider found that just 18 women occupy executive director-level positions across all Lloyd’s managing agents.

Some sources pointed out the gap in women in leadership roles at Lloyd’s managing agents can be attributed to the fact that initiatives to help achieve gender parity at entry-level roles are fairly new, and it will take some time for women to move up the ranks and reach senior management level.