The finance and insurance industry is leading the way in following best gender equity practices but there is still more to be done.
A 2021 WGEA report stated that the finance and insurance industry ranked highest in following best gender equity practices (2.9x more likely to follow practices than other industries surveyed). The industry has also seen a 10% decrease in its gender pay gap over the last six years. However, the battle for gender equality has not ended.
The report reveals that we would need to wait another 25 years before we see the total remuneration gender pay gap close. The finance and insurance industry had the largest total gender pay gap at 27.5% over the other 19 industries included in the report.
Between 2015 and 2020, businesses that set targets to increase their share of female board members achieved change twice as fast as those who did not. Although only 8 per cent of the businesses surveyed had set these targets and, unfortunately, the targets are becoming less ambitious.
The report stated that the finance and insurance industry has half as many female board members compared to the share of women in their workforce.
What could be causing the disparity?
There are likely many factors that have contributed to inequity, from perceptions of abilities to outdated stereotypes and unjustified biases.
Interestingly, a 2019 study that included 40,184 men and 22,600 women, found that confidence dramatically affected women’s inclinations to apply for roles where they met most of the role requirements.
The study found that women under the age of 25 rated lower in confidence levels than their male counterparts. Confidence levels rose when women were older than 40. Women were less likely to apply for a job if they were not confident that they met most of the listed job requirements and qualifications. Men, on the other hand, were found to be more confident in their abilities. Women are more likely to think that they’re missing the skills and not apply, whereas men are more likely to think they can learn what they’re missing while on the job.
At Fuse Recruitment, we’ve noticed that the number of male applicants for insurance jobs reflects this finding.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that unconscious biases play a significant role in determining who gets hired or promoted.
Benefits of diversity and gender equity
On the flip side of low confidence levels in women, the 2019 study suggests that women’s low confidence levels make them more willing to accept feedback from others and motivate them to take initiative to improve their skills.
When asked to rate how they perceived their female employees based on a variety of qualities, managers rated females to be more effective than men at every hierarchical level and in just about every department.
Women were found to perform exceptionally well in many capabilities including being more resilient, practising self-development and being innovative, as well as another 14 out of 19 capabilities included.
After reaching out to Women In Insurance (QLD) President, Stephanie Huestis, she confirmed that "women have become more savvy and confident in promoting their skills and abilities in what was historically a male-dominated industry." She has also found that "females add value to the industry in a unique way, particularly with their ability to have empathy for their colleagues, peers and clients and their needs in terms of parenting, work/life balance and family pressures."
Cameron Watson, Fuse’s Head of Strategy, had worked over 20 years directly in the insurance and said, “having a diverse workforce introduces different ways of thinking and helps businesses to achieve their objectives.”
In an article published in March earlier this year, World Travel Protection’s Chief Executive Officer, Adrian Leach, stated that having mostly females in senior and leadership positions had helped their “company manage the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
How to take down gender inequity
To tackle the gender equity issue, businesses can take a number of measures to ensure they allow women in their organisation a fair chance.
The WGEA report found that organisations that undertook a regular pay gap analysis saw their pay gap shrink faster than companies that did not.
In response to women’s confidence levels, organisations should encourage more women to pursue leadership positions and promotions.
Businesses should also set targets to increase their share of female board members. Many of our clients have made a conscious effort to hire more women. Partnering with Fuse Recruitment has helped our clients to remove biases that may have existed throughout the recruitment process.
“We’re seeing a willingness from many of our clients to fill more roles with women,” says Cameron. “Recruiting more women is part of their business strategies. Our job as industry-leading recruiters is to support these strategies through our non-gender specific techniques in identifying talent.”
Currently, we’re using AI and machine learning software to support our recruitment processes. Something very exciting coming soon is our software’s ability to automatically match candidates with relevant jobs by evaluating their CVs. This removes gender biases, and other biases, that may exist if a human were to evaluate a candidate.
Regularly engaging with our candidates means we always have their most recent CV on file and have a great understanding of who they are as a person. This further enhances our ability to match candidates to jobs. Regular contact in combination with automation allows us to fast track the recruitment process. As a result, some roles are not advertised on online job boards as the candidates are already engaged and pre-qualified in our database.
Fuse Recruitment has partnered with the insurance industry with the intention of investing in the growth of the industry. Our industry specialists partner with clients to understand their specific requirements and use their industry knowledge to source suitable high-quality candidates. Candidates are assessed based on skills, experience and behavioural characteristics which have historically proven to be valuable in the industry time and time again.
If you’re looking to fill roles with a gender-equal mindset, fill in the form below and we’ll be in contact with you shortly.
About the Author
Madeleine is an experienced Financial Services Recruitment Consultant and she has been specialising in Insurance Recruitment in the Melbourne market since 2007.
After establishing and running her own agency, ME Recruitment, for a decade, Madeleine has joined the Fuse team to further strengthen their reputation as a specialist in the Insurance and Financial Services sectors.
Madeleine thrives on developing an in-depth understanding of her client’s businesses and partnering with them to find recruitment solutions to aid them in building high performing teams.