Aviva CEO Amanda Blanc has warned that the sexism she has faced as a senior executive has become more intense, after comments made at the insurance company’s meeting this week provoked a rapid response across the sector.
The remarks made about Blanc, who was appointed in March 2021 to the UK government champion for women in finance, drew condemnation from senior executives across the industry, who described the episode as “horrific” and “more common”.
The chair of Aviva George Colmar Reprimand Individual shareholders at the end of the meeting on Monday after comments, first reported by the Financial Times, including Blanc “not the man for the job” and that she should “wear pants”.
After a sharp reaction against the comments on social networks, Blanc contacted the network’s website late Tuesday, writing: “I want to tell you that the situation has improved in recent years, but it is fair to say that it has actually increased – the more senior the position I have taken, the more overt the unacceptable behavior.
She added: “The surprising thing is that things like this have been said in the past in private, perhaps promising four walls inside an office – the fact that people are now making these remarks at a public meeting is a new development for me. Personally.”
Blanc, who became the first CEO of the FTSE 100 insurance company when she joined in 2020, has received support from other bosses in the industry, as well as hundreds of well-wishers on social media.
Penny James, CEO of insurance company Direct Lane, told FT that the comments “reflected the sexism we know still exists” and credited Aviva’s senior staff for reading the behavior.
“When I started in business you were expected to just tolerate such comments,” James said. “It depends on all of us to talk, because that’s how you change the culture, promote diversity and make it easier for the next generation to follow.”
Sheila Cameron, executive director of the Lloyds Market Association, a trade entity representing underwriters, said the “disgraceful” comments proved that efforts to improve culture have “a very long way to go.” She added: “These types of comments have become more frequent, especially on social media and under online press articles.”
Julie Page, UK CEO of the Aon Professional Services Group, said such comments undermined efforts to “drive gender diversity and attract female talent to the financial sector.” Meanwhile, Hannah Gorge, CEO of the British Insurance Association, said: “These comments It is shocking and there is no place or reason for such a language in society. “
Rumi SabovathirdThe CEO of the pension company PensionBee, said the “derogatory remarks… Remind us that unfortunately, much remains to be done to achieve gender equality and respect for the successes of women in the workplace”.
The insurance sector has struggled to eradicate sexism despite the urges in every part of the industry to improve culture. In March, Lloyd’s insurance market from London Divided Her first fine for misconduct, sanctions for conduct in the Atrium Underwriting Group that included sexual harassment.
“Just like a whole lot of other women in business, I collected my parts in merging scars while touring companies and meeting rooms until I got to Aviva,” Blanc wrote on LinkedIn. “I guess after hearing the same ancient rhetoric for so long, it makes you a little immune to everything.”
Aviva chief warns of worsening sexism after inappropriate AGM comments Source link Aviva chief warns of worsening sexism after inappropriate AGM comments