While progress to reduce pay gaps has been made, “challenges remain” that need to be addressed, says people director of culture and employee experience

Insurer QBE has reported a decline in its average gender and ethnicity pay gaps for 2023 – however, its people director of culture and employee experience warned that “challenges remain” around equalising pay.

On 29 January 2024, QBE published its annual gender and ethnicity pay gap report for 2023.

Gender pay gap reporting has been a statutory requirement for public, private and voluntary sector organisations with 250 or more staff since April 2017, whereas formal reporting on ethnicity-based pay gaps is still voluntary.

Within a company’s gender pay gap report, it must report mean and median gender pay gaps based on hourly pay, gender bonus gap information and gender distribution across pay quartiles. These details must be published on the firm’s own website, as well as submitted to the UK government.

QBE’s data – collected as of 5 April 2023 – revealed a mean gender pay gap of 21.9% for 2023, based on hourly pay. This means that the firm’s male employees earn 21.9% more than its female staff.

This demonstrated an improvement on recent years – this figure started at 32.8% in 2017 and was reported as 24.7% for 2022.

QBE’s median gender pay gap for 2023 is 27.1%, versus 28.4% for 2022.

In comparison, the insurer’s gender bonus gap has worsened, increasing from 50.1% for 2022 to 51.7% for 2023, in favour of male staff.

Nikki Lees, people director of culture and employee experience at QBE, said: “While progress has been made to reduce the gender pay gap at QBE, like the rest of the industry, the bonus pay gap remains an issue and more work needs to be done to reduce this.

”While the popularity of part-time roles plays a contributing factor, higher bonus payouts to new senior male hires and joining start dates certainly skews the results.”  

Meanwhile, globally, QBE has achieved its 2025 target of having 40% of its female staff in leadership positions.

This comes after Lloyd’s of London revealed last year (4 July 2023) that data from its fourth market policies and practices survey showed the market reached 32% of women in leadership positions as of 31 December 2022.

Ethnicity pay gaps

QBE’s mean ethnicity pay gap for 2023 is 5.4% in favour of white staff, based on hourly pay. This compares to 10.4% for 2022. 

The firm’s median ethnicity pay gap, however, is 8.5% in favour of ethnic minorities – QBE attributed this result to the fact that 70% of its ethnically diverse colleagues are based in its London offices, with staff in the capital typically earning higher salaries compared to the rest of the UK.

Its mean ethnicity bonus gap is 40.8% in favour of white employees for 2023.

Boosted benefits

QBE believes its reduced gender pay gap is, in part, thanks to an improved employee benefits package – for example, the insurer introduced an enhanced parental leave policy in January 2023.

Its updated UK parental leave policy offers all employees 26 weeks of leave at full pay, as well as up to 52 weeks of parental leave overall, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Since the introduction of this policy, it has been taken up by 56 fathers, with 73% of these taking 22 weeks or more at full pay. Additionally, five men have taken extended leave exceeding six months.

The average paternity leave duration at QBE increased from 8.6 days in 2022 to 150 days in 2023.

“Providing the right options, like equal parental leave, has a positive impact on gender equality more generally, reflecting the needs of dual career families, as time away from work to care for a child can be more equally split,” said Lees.

“Breaking down gender stereotypes and challenging the norms around who raises children in the home is a key piece of the puzzle.”