Dial barely shifts on female numbers in Lloyd’s managing agency C-suite
A year on from Insurance Insider’s deep dive into the dearth of senior women in roles within the Lloyd’s market, very little has changed in terms of the low level of representation.
Only 21 major executive positions within the 53 Lloyd’s managing agencies are filled by women and just two have the title of CEO, according to Insurance Insider’s updated analysis.
This represents a slight step up from 18 women in CEO, CFO or CUO positions at managing agencies in 2022, when our research used slightly different criteria.
That said, this minor improvement is practically insignificant given most positions are still held by men.
Our analysis also found that of the 99 active underwriters at Lloyd’s syndicates, only nine are female — again, only a slight improvement on the eight occupying this role within their Lloyd’s business last year.
Meanwhile at board level, just under a quarter of seats at managing agents are occupied by women. Within that number, less than half hold an executive position.
The figures come after repeated calls by the Corporation for managing agents to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) within their own ranks while doing more to boost representation for women and members of minority groups at senior levels.
Lloyd’s Market Association CEO Sheila Cameron said: “It’s very disheartening that there hasn’t been more progress since the original version of this article in terms of the number of board level executive roles held by women in the Lloyd’s marketplace.”
“Today’s market leaders have got to now demonstrate their personal intent to change the gender profile of major executive roles across our market, particularly the CEO, CFO and CUO roles,” said Cameron.
A Lloyd’s spokesperson said: “In 2020, as part of a programme of work looking to improve culture across Lloyd’s, we set a target for the market to reach 35% of women in leadership positions by December 2023. We’re pleased to see progress is being made, with the latest data from our fourth market policies and practices return showing the market reaching 32% women in leadership, a 2-point increase from the previous year and putting our target in reach with continued action.
"We’ve seen firms working hard to attract, develop, promote and retain female and diverse talent but know there is more to do, so we encourage market firms to build on this improvement. We expect to see more organisations exceeding this target as the actions being taken to expand the diversity of the talent pool and build inclusive workplaces bear fruit.”
Insurance Insider obtained this data from the Lloyd’s market directory and statutory filings at Companies House.
We gathered the names of the individuals currently filling active underwriter positions at the 96 Lloyd’s syndicates active for the 2023 year of account and performed further research to establish how many of those were women (three syndicates had more than one named active underwriter).
These syndicates are overseen by 53 separate managing agents. For each of these agents, we examined all current directors registered with Companies House.
This year’s tally of major executive roles includes all women who are executive directors and work in leadership, underwriting or finance functions — whereas last year’s total of key executives only focussed on the CEO, CFO and CUO (or equivalent) of each managing agent.
The improved headline numbers should also be seen in the context of this expansion to our criteria, which we felt better represented senior participation.
Four of the women now within our cohort of major executives are included because of the change in criteria: Joanne Musselle and Suzanne Kemble, CUO and head of specialty at Hiscox Syndicates; Melanie Raven, active underwriter at Ark Syndicate Management; and Miriam Connole, international CFO at Chubb Underwriting Agencies.
One woman is excluded due to the change in the criteria: Taryn McHarg, CFO at Apollo Syndicate Management, is not a director of the managing agency’s corporate entity.
CFO Anouchka Gokhool is now included as Ariel Re launched its own managing agency in October 2022, after last year’s research was completed.
Carole McCarthy, finance director at Dale Managing Agency, and Charlotte Constable, CFO at IQUW Syndicate Management, were both appointed as company directors since the last iteration of this exercise, and so have also been included.
Meanwhile, three women who were directors in September last year have stepped down: Canopius’ Sarah Willmont; Nephila’s Gina Butterworth; and Munich Re’s Rhonda Attwood.
Given that the data shows a snapshot in time, it does not therefore reflect that Beazley CFO Sally Lake has resigned and will step down in 2024, nor that MS Amlin has appointed Jessie Burrows as CFO, effective as of January next year.
All in all, the data depicts a largely static scenario in terms of improving the gender balance of the market’s most senior executive positions.
As was the case in 2023, the single largest category within the major executive leadership positions occupied by women is finance — either CFO or finance director.
Sources said women are more likely to progress to executive leadership level via this route because it is more structured, requiring specific accountancy qualifications and experience, whereas underwriting and CEO roles are less prescriptive.
In these more nebulous roles, sources suggested that unconscious bias towards male candidates as well as the informal networks more open to men within the market play a role in barring women from progression.
Underwriting roles see slight progress
As explored in our investigation last year, the Lloyd’s market stands accused of having an “obsession” with underwriting backgrounds, often fixating on leadership candidates who rose through the ranks as underwriters.
This preference for “underwriters’ CEOs” disproportionately impacts women’s career progression, given that women are more likely to work in other areas of the market that traditionally offer more flexibility such as legal, compliance or claims.
Absent a correction of this fixation on underwriting backgrounds in leadership, a greater presence of women in senior underwriting roles suggests some prospect for future rebalancing towards female talent.
Nine women this year — one more than last year’s eight — occupy the active underwriter role within their Lloyd’s business.
This figure pales into insignificance, however, given the overall number of active underwriter roles in the market.
Board membership and growing representation
Last year, Lloyd’s reported that women made up 19% of boards of Lloyd’s businesses, including both executive and non-executive roles.
According to our analysis, this year women make up just under a quarter of all board members, showing some positive progress. Of the 123 women who sit on boards, however, 71 are non-execs with less direct influence than their executive peers.
More progress to be made
In our initial investigation, we highlighted the various elements that female market participants cited as barriers to their progression up the career ladder.
These included bias, both of an overt and subconscious nature; emphasis on underwriting backgrounds as a key leadership criteria; the limitations of executive search firms; and inflexibility in senior roles, precluding candidates with caring responsibilities.
Lloyd’s has put its shoulder to the wheel on female representation, setting each firm the target of ensuring that 35% of their leadership roles are filled by women by December 2023.
The Corporation counts positions on boards and executive committees, as well as direct reports to the executive committee as leadership roles, reasoning that the latter group will form the leadership cohort of the future.
This definition naturally therefore produces a more positive picture for female representation within the sector — but even by this measure, the market has only hit 32%, according to 2023 data. At individual business level, just 24 of the 53 firms have 35% female leadership.
In its market messaging last December, Lloyd’s said it would impose penalties on businesses that refuse to make progress on culture targets, including a requirement to submit a continent run-off plan for a syndicate.
While it is unreasonable to expect wholesale change within a year or two, the lack of overall advancement for women in the sector so far may mean Lloyd’s must make good on its threats for the managing agents still dragging their heels on DE&I.