Ellen Bennett, deputy editor

THERE’S NOTHING less attractive than a whingeing woman. Which is why it’s so good to see the positive attitude taken by the high-flying females in insurance whom we interviewed this week. As Amanda Blanc of Towergate says, in the grand scheme of things, women are still relatively new to the business world and it takes some time for them to filter through. Our survey shows that just over one in eight board members are women across the top 50 insurers and brokers. That’s a shame, because those companies are missing out on certain skills. But let’s face it: there are always going to be fewer women than men in senior roles because many women choose to put a family before a career. Of course, employers should be flexible but there are limits. At the top of any business, the hours and commitment necessary are often all-consuming. Some superwomen do it all, and well done to them, but for many that is not a realistic option.

So, is there sexism in the City? As our feature shows, those women who want to succeed and have the right skills seem to face few obstacles outside the inevitable juggling of time and commitments. The industry’s leading women would prefer to spend their time fighting boardroom battles than dwelling on preconceived and increasingly outdated notions of gender imbalance. One of the younger brokers who we interviewed lamented the lack of role models for women in the sector. She and any other young women looking for inspiration should turn to page 14.

Time to throw referral fees open to scrutiny

Groupama’s Laurent Matras has thrown down the gauntlet to other insurers whose voices have joined the increasingly loud chorus of complaints about credit hire operators, claims farming and referral fees (page 18). As he acknowledges, insurers are perpetuating the situation that costs them so much by accepting referral fees themselves. He will make public details of Groupama’s referral fees if other insurers will follow suit. And we’ll publish them.