Lloyd’s market gender targets a ‘powerful lever for change’: McGovern

The target set by Lloyd's of achieving 35% female leadership market-wide by 2023 will be an important but challenging goal given the scarcity of female leaders today, Axa XL’s Sean McGovern has said.

In an interview with Insurance Insider ahead of the annual Dive In festival, the UK and Lloyd’s CEO said he was highly supportive of the targets and the data collection being driven by Lloyd’s, which could be a “powerful lever for change”.

He said: “A target of 35% doesn’t sound very ambitious, but given the starting point it probably is.”

Currently, women hold 29% of leadership roles in the Lloyd’s market. However, there are still 12 firms with all-male boards and 12 with all-male executive committees. 

Of this group, seven firms have all-male boards and executive committee teams combined. One firm has all-male direct reports to the executive committee.

Axa XL has recently undergone changes in its leadership team, 30% of which is female, McGovern said. He added: “Again not quite 35%, so pretty good but we have more work to do.

“This is Lloyd’s using its brand and convening power to get the market to focus on topics, and I am very supportive of this.”

He added that the recently published culture dashboard – which will collect data on other areas of diversity such as sexual orientation, disability and ethnicity – also provided an important starting point for measuring and tracking progress made by the market in terms of its diversity.

“Any tools that Lloyds can make available to the market to help increase the speed of change must be a good thing,” he said, adding that when it comes to individual companies, “no-one wants to be an outlier”.

He continued: “If you have a better sense of where leaders are in their own journey, it is useful to see what they are doing to see what is making a difference.”

The CEO also acknowledged that the female leadership targets would create more reporting for Lloyd’s businesses, but he said: “To be honest, if we are not able to provide the data easily then we are not paying enough attention to [the issue].”

Speaking on diversity issues beyond gender equality, the executive said the Black Lives Matter movement had pushed many industry leaders to reflect on how to bring about change.

The industry has been aware of the lack of racial diversity in the market and has had some focus on the topic, but not enough, he said.

The sixth annual Dive In festival will take place between 22 and 24 September. McGovern said he saw it as “an annual celebration of what the industry is achieving, as much as it is a call to arms for us to press forward with the agenda”.

He continued: “I think we would all recognise that in London we are not where we need to be, but I think we have made tremendous progress. I think people should be congratulated for that.”

The market has a talent pipeline issue which needs to be urgently addressed, and to do that the industry needs to better reflect the society it serves, the CEO added. “We should strive to be companies that people really want to work for in the future.”

Dive In provides an excellent opportunity to focus on this challenge and tackle it head on, he continued.

McGovern concluded: “Dive In is about people coming together to talk about issues, learning from each other and actually turning that into tangible action for change both on a company and industry level.”

Registration is now open for the 2020 Dive In Festival, which takes place between 22 and 24 September. Click here for more information. 

Related articles