’Every individual firm has to be accountable for any allegations,’ says chief executive
Aviva chief executive Amanda Blanc has revealed that her firm has acted to sack male employees for inapparopirate behaviour as she stressed that women across any business “have to know” there is a process for speaking up.
Giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry about sexism in London yesterday (13 December 2023), Blanc shared “appalling” accounts of harassment across the city, including unwanted sexual advances, being told their pregnancies were “inconvenient” or being followed into hotel rooms.
Speaking about Aviva, Blanc stressed that the insurer had made efforts to protect female staff and ensure that women’s careers did not suffer, noting that “the person who did the bad leaves the organisation, not the women”.
“Every individual firm has to be accountable for any allegations such as this and the women in the firm have to know that there is a process for speaking up, that that process will be acted on, that everything will be investigated, and that the person who did the bad leaves the organisation, not the women,” she said.
“And we have had experiences like that at Aviva, where the woman has stayed and man has gone.”
The parliamentary inquiry saw MPs question representatives from advocacy groups and industry bodies in order to get their views on whether representation and culture in the financial services sector had improved since 2018.
Prior to this, Blanc, who became Aviva’s top boss in 2020, put out a LinkedIn post asking people to share their observations beforehand.
It came after she opened up on LinkedIn about the sexism she has experienced in the insurance industry in 2022, saying at the time that it got worse the more senior she became.
This followed an annual general meeting (AGM), during which Blanc and other female board members were subjected to sexist remarks.
Blanc received a wave of support over the inappropriate behaviour and thanked individuals for their support, but noted the industry still had a long way to go.
“In all honesty, after 30 plus years in financial services I am pretty used to sexist and derogatory comments like those in the AGM,” she posted.
“I would like to tell you that things have got better in recent years, but it’s fair to say that it has actually increased – the more senior the role I have taken, the more overt the unacceptable behaviour. ”
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