Insurer Zurich has published its UK gender pay gap for 2018 as part of its efforts to achieve gender equality within its ranks and improve transparency around the process.
According to its data, between 2017 and 2018 Zurich UK reduced its mean gender pay gap from 27.3 per cent to 22.8 per cent and its median gender pay gap from 27.4 per cent to 22.6 per cent. However, its mean and median bonus pay gap, as of 2018, was 51.9 per cent and 44.9 per cent respectively, compared with 47.2 per cent and 34.2 per cent in 2017. These figures are impacted, the insurer clarified, by the fact that 93 per cent of its part-time employees are female, and the fact that the number of one-off payments for attraction or retention have increased.
“I am pleased to announce our gender pay gap has reduced to 22.8 per cent,” said Tulsi Naidu, CEO of Zurich UK. “While this is a great step forward, there is clearly more to do reduce both the hourly pay gap as well as the bonus gap. Differences in average pay and bonus are due to the under-representation of women in senior and technical roles at Zurich and more broadly across the insurance sector. Fewer women than men apply for senior roles at Zurich and we believe this is partly due to the need for more flexibility in roles at all levels.”
The insurer has announced some major recruitment and retention initiatives so that it can continue to improve its efforts in this area. All new vacancies will from now on be advertised as available part-time, as a job share, or full time, while all interview panels will consist of at least two managers, preferably of mixed gender and ethnicity. Diversity will be a key factor when determining longlists and shortlists for potential employees, with gender balanace a particular focus. Zurich has also pledged to commit to flexible working practices so that employees can achieve a more desirable balance of work and home life.
Additionally, the company will run an Early Careers programme to encourage young women to consider a career with Zurich, and a Youth Skills programme that will hopefully inspire more school-age candidates to consider working towards an insurance industry career. Zurich will also continue to run its Women’s Innovation Network, which is now in its fifth year and has over 800 UK-based members.
It is encouraging – particularly on International Women’s Day – to see prominent figures in the insurance industry saying the right things about gender equality, making ambitious commitments and demonstrating concrete improvements. For example, ITIJ recently reported on the Chartered Insurance Institute’s own laudable efforts in this area.
However, while a certain amount of celebration is in order, it should not lead to complacency. Reducing a gender pay gap by significant percentage points is an achievement, but businesses in all sectors should be asking themselves why these gaps exist in the first place. Gender inequality is as much a matter of culture as it is of processes, and we can only hope that decision-makers in all industries are taking a holistic approach to inclusivity, rather than engaging in tokenism.