Why diversity is a priority for Airmic

Published on Mon, 05/03/2018 - 10:29

Thursday March 8 was International Women's Day. So, what is Airmic doing about gender diversity and diversity in general? Chief executive John Ludlow says it is an important business issue for the association, even if it is still work in progress.​

Look at the top table at the Airmic dinner and the ranks of men in dinner jackets, and you would get the strong impression that the association is dominated by white males, even if there are more women in evidence than used to be the case. Yet around 50% of members are female, a ratio that has certainly not always been reflected at the average Airmic meeting. CEO John Ludlow is a strong supporter of diversity, and points out that things are improving.

"We want to see diversity and equality for sound business reasons," he says. "Diversity and equality within a company makes it more aware of issues, more empathetic and more attractive to all stakeholders. Employees will be more engaged, customers attracted and society more supportive. These are important for both the success and resilience of a business. We at Airmic are keen to encourage diversity and, to be totally honest, there is still some way to go."

He points out that, where there is a lack of diversity within Airmic's events, it is often due to circumstances beyond its control. Stakeholder industries like insurance and many of the businesses that support it tend to be male-dominated at the leadership level - a fact that feeds through in both the range of speakers at events and to some extent the people who move into insurance and risk management.

fastTrack, the Airmic offshoot for mostly younger members who are relatively new to the profession, shows where things are going. The recent fastTrack leadership programme at Lloyd's, for example, involved a diverse group of participants.

"I have had the pleasure of meeting many fastTrack members, most recently at the Forum on February 28th, and there is no doubt that things are moving in the right direction," he says. "Young women were very much in evidence, and I am optimistic about the future. In the meantime, my job - and the job of the board - is to keep pushing things in the right direction."

And one final reason for hope. Women make up half the Airmic board, including the senior deputy chair, a proportion that reflects the membership generally.