Ahead of the October 2021 gender pay gap reporting deadline, insurance legal services firm Carpenters Group has published its gender pay gap report. Chief executive Donna Richards tells Insurance Times how it has achieved gender equality at senior levels and what this means for the business

Our recently published Gender Pay Gap Report shows that, at 8.8%, Carpenters Group’s mean gender pay gap for 2020 is 11.1% lower than the insurance industry average and 18.2% lower than the legal sector average. We also have complete gender parity at executive board and operations board level.

Donna Richards_Carpenters Group

Donna Richards, Carpenters Group 

We have achieved these results by providing opportunities to work flexibly from the early stages of our growth as a business and by offering development opportunities for all, regardless of career stage. Our approach to equality has not been one of tokenism or positive discrimination, but ensuring the right culture has been created to attract women, appointing the right person and providing the tools, flexibility, support and opportunity to progress.

Many outstanding employees, both male and female, are wholly committed to the business because they can balance the demands of a fast-paced, ever-changing business with external, personal factors. We are rewarded through their contribution to the firm, their loyalty – and, crucially, continued excellent business performance. This year we joined the 30% Club, a global campaign led by chairs and chief executives taking action to increase gender diversity at board and senior management levels. Our record of attracting experienced and knowledgeable senior female leaders to the business is very good.

Factors such as our strong sense of doing what is right within the local community through our corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments and being a fast growing, ambitious business with excellent clients and business opportunities have been cited as key reasons for attracting talent. More recently, our gender pay data, gender parity at board and executive level and our continued commitment to making positive progress within all areas of the diversity and inclusion agenda are also listed as reasons to have joined Carpenters Group.


The business case for diversity and inclusion is stronger than ever. The 2020 McKinsey report Diversity Wins cited: “companies with more than 30% women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10% to 30% and, in turn, these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives, or none at all. The events of the last year have put the spotlight on diversity and inclusion and opened up discussions about celebrating difference, while ensuring equality of opportunity across all of our business practices.

The impact of the pandemic within employment has more adversely affected women, with a recent report by Accenture revealing that 32% of women in insurance left their jobs temporarily or permanently, with many linking childcare or elder care as the primary reason. We need to work with all employees to ensure we retain talent in a way that minimises the risk from inevitable external factors that all employees face and similarly ensure we do not unintentionally disadvantage any group. Leaders must show their humanity, be willing to learn and to listen to colleagues who have lived experiences that they may not share. Then, with empathy, connection and authenticity, we can turn those conversations into actions that benefit everyone in the industry.