The number of female executives in the insurance industry continues to rise slowly, but more should be done to quicken the pace, Lloyd’s of London Chief Executive Officer Inga Beale said.

“I am a strong believer that there are some certain things firms can do, [but there is] something inherently challenging in our world,” Beale said as part of a panel discussion at the NAIC International Insurance Forum on May 14 in Washington, D.C.

“I look out in the Lloyd’s market, at nearly 70 businesses with individual CEOs, and there is one run by a woman,” Beale said. “Things aren’t changing very rapidly.”

Beale said that there is a 27.7 percent gender pay gap at Lloyd’s that favors average hourly pay for male employees, a reality she called “rather sad.” Lloyd’s is trying to close that gap, Beale noted, adding it is pushing to have at least 40 percent female executives at the top tier of the organization by 2020, up from 38 percent now.

“Things are changing, but we need to be proactive now,” Beale said.

Beale spoke during the conference’s “Transforming Insurance in the 21st Century: A C-Suite Perspective” panel. Moderated by Julie McPeak, the NAIC president and commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, the panel also included Jon Hancock President and CEO Marianne Harrison and Ameritas CEO JoAnn Martin. Both also had recommendations about how to encourage more females to join the insurance industry and pursue a path to the C-suite.

“There is a path,” Martin said. “The best thing we can do is to develop people. We have to keep young ladies engaged in junior high in math and science.”

Martin said that future C-level executives are already in play in insurance, with women leading marketing, sales and actuarial science divisions. “There is lots of talent available,” she said.

Harrison, who became John Hancock’s CEO in October, said that diversity beyond gender is just as important.

“We as a company are trying to do a lot,” Harrison said. “Diversity with a capital “D” – ethnicity, race and religion are just as important. “We’re very focused on that and making sure [that’s in] every hire we have and the diverse slate of candidates we are looking at.”

Topics Lloyd's