Despite the Government Equalities Office suspending enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines for this reporting year, a number of insurers have still published their figures

Insurers such as Aviva, RSA and Zurich have published their gender pay gap figures for 2019, despite the Government Equalities Office (GEO) announcing last month that it was suspending the enforcement of gender pay gap deadlines for this reporting year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In normal circumstances, the mandatory gender pay gap reporting applies to all businesses with 250 or more staff. Organisations have to report specific figures about their gender pay gap based on an annual snapshot date of 5 April; firms’ final report must be published on their public-facing website and submitted to the government by 4 April each year.

General insurance companies are making inroads into reducing their gender pay gap figures. For example, at Aviva, the mean gender pay gap in terms of hourly pay was 26.7% for 2019, an improvement on the 27.2% it recorded for 2018.

RSA also noted a slight improvement in its mean gender pay gap, from 33.6% in 2018 to 31.7% last year. Zurich too cut down its gender pay gap, reporting a mean figure of 20.7% for 2019 compared to 22.8% in 2018.

The consensus across these firms is that the gender pay gap exists due to more women being employed in junior roles and more men occupying senior positions. This can be more clearly evidenced when looking at organisation’s pay quartile data.

At Zurich, for example, 61.5% of women are within its lowest pay quartile, compared to 30.8% who sit within its highest pay quartile.

Taking action

However, insurers are clearly taking action to further reduce gender pay differentials, as noted by these slight improvements. This includes measures such as introducing flexible working, making available employee network groups and mentoring opportunities, as well as looking at recruitment processes.

In particular, RSA operates a diversity and inclusion council to govern activity in this arena, while Zurich has focused on family-friendly policies, such as its parental leave offering. Aviva, on the other hand, has actioned leadership programmes for women.

Zurich’s UK chief executive Tulsi Naidu said: “Despite the government suspending gender pay gap reporting in light of the coronavirus pandemic, we have taken the decision to publish our data. We think it is important we continue to operate as usual; this is an important topic, our data is ready and we are active on new initiatives to reduce the gap further.

“Our figures show progress and a definite step in the right direction, though we know more work is needed.

“We’re confident that we’ll make greater strides when we publish next year’s data that should reflect the measures put in place to attract more women into senior roles. We’re looking at how we can tackle pay gaps from every angle – and this will include ethnicity, disability and LGBT in the months ahead.

“This is part of our aim to make Zurich an attractive place to work, presenting opportunities to the widest possible range of people.”

Stephen Hester, group chief executive at RSA, added: “A welcoming, diverse and inclusive culture is an important element for RSA in our mission of high performance and one I am personally committed to.

“By focusing on increasing our appeal to talented women, we are increasing their representation at senior levels. Over time this will help us to make further progress in reducing our gender pay gap.”