The insurer said that there is more to be done and has called on the government to provide the right tools to tackle racial inequality in the workplace
Zurich has revealed a 9.8% ethnicity pay gap for mean average hourly pay for 2020. This is an improvement of two percentage points since 2019’s figure, which it also recorded.
It claims to be the first insurer, and one of only around sixteen other UK companies to publicly reveal these figures.
Following this, the insurer has launched a programme to tackle the removal of barriers for career progression for ethnic minority employees.
The insurer said that “this is just the beginning of a more focussed effort,” it intends to carry out extensive research and implement an action plan to tackle the issue more widely in Autumn.
It is also seeking external advice from its partner – The Behavioural Insights Team, a government institution jointly owned by the UK Cabinet Office to do this.
Zurich also supports the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s calls for mandatory reporting on ethnic minority pay, recruitment and progression.
It is now urging the government to produce rigorous guidance and tools for employers to tackle racial inequality in the workplace.
More work to do
Last year Zurich took measures to tackle the gender pay gap by offering all jobs as part time, job share or a flexwork basis which led to more females in senior roles.
Zurich’s ethnicity pay gap in 2019 was 11.8%. But its bonus pay gap has widened by 7.8 percentage points from last year’s figure of 16.7%.
It puts this down to a small number of employee changes in senior roles and new appointments being made mid-year with bonus awards for new starters made on a pro-rata basis to date of hire.
Zurich’s UK chief executive, Tulsi Naidu said: “We are listening to our employees from diverse and ethnic minority backgrounds, and their experiences will help inform any action we take.
“Our data shows that we have more work to do to appoint more diverse candidates to our business and to better support them in their careers. We are committed to doing everything we can to understand how we can progress meaningful change.”
The insurer said that its Cultural Awareness Network has been instrumental in bringing about these changes.
Since becoming a signatory of the Business in the Community firm’s ‘Race at Work Charter’ back in January – an initiative with five calls to action designed to ensure all ethnic minority employees are represented at all levels on an organisation.
Meanwhile over half of Zurich’s UK executive team is involved in the Insurance Industry’s Cultural Awareness Network’s mentoring programme, and its own internal reverse mentoring scheme to understand barriers to career progression.
Zurich’s data also shows 7% of its UK employees declare themselves as belonging to an ethnic minority.
But these numbers in practice may be higher, as just 86% of people self-declare their ethnicity, Zurich said.
Steve Collinson, Zurich UK’s head of HR added: “We think it is critical that we build a truly diverse business that reflects our customers and communities and we are taking a structured approach by putting a concrete framework and action plan in place to move the dial.”
Lord Bilimoria, president of employers group the Confederation of British Industry’s and the founder and chairman of COBRA Beer, said, “Diversity drives better decision-making. So, the lack of black and ethnic minority representation in the highest echelons of UK enterprise must change.
“Talented people must have the same rights and opportunities as anyone else to rise to the top of their careers, regardless of their appearance or background.
”Progress has been made over the years, but not enough, which is why it’s so important companies like Zurich act as allies for change that can make a real difference.”