One in three companies had exclusively male boards

Only one in eight places in the boardrooms of the UK’s top ranking insurers and brokers are held by women, exclusive research by Insurance Times can reveal..

Figures collated from the top 50 insurers and brokers showed that women hold only 57 places out of a total number of 443 board positions (12.9%). One in three companies had exclusively male boards.

Helen Crofts, chair of the Women’s Insurance Network said the financial sector’s macho-fuelled environment and the lack of support for working women with families prevented women from rising to senior level. “Women feel they are generally unsupported, which is why they join the women’s insurance network,” she said. “There is still an atmosphere that prevails that if you have to get ahead, you have to act like a man. Women don’t want to have to do that.”

She added the industry needed to provide more support for women who had taken time out of work to raise a family by providing training and refresher courses to help them ease their way back into the industry. “It would be terrific if the Chartered Insurance Institute did some summer courses,” she added.

Chief executive of Towergate’s UK broking division and last year’s winner of the overall Woman in the City Award Amanda Blanc called on senior female figures in the industry to encourage other women to pursue a career in insurance. Senior women needed to raise their profile by taking part in networking forums such as Women in the City.

“Role models need to push themselves forward and say: ‘It can be done. It is not that difficult and

I have done it.’ I think that is an important role that we have to play,” she said.

Crofts said the lack of high profile role models was a barrier to other women wishing to progress in the industry. “Role models can be hugely influential in what people choose to follow.”

However, Biba’s chief executive Eric Galbraith said the situation was gradually improving. “There are more women moving into positions of influence.”