Opinion: Narrowing the gap our drive towards gender parity - WorldHRDiary

February 11, 2021

Opinion: Narrowing the gap our drive towards gender parity

 

By Sean McGovern 


AXA XL is committed to creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Increasing the representation of women across our organisation, particularly in senior and technical roles, is an important part of that effort.

 

Like all businesses with more than 250 employees across the UK, we’re reporting our Gender Pay Gap figures for 2020. Gender Pay Gap reporting is a key indicator of how we are doing in working towards gender balance and parity. It’s important to note that the Gender Pay Gap shows the average earnings of men and women across an organisation or market. It doesn’t indicate differences in pay for comparable jobs; gender pay equity is a distinct issue. 


Sean McGovern, CEO, UK & Lloyd's market, AXA XL
Sean McGovern 
 

We’re reporting the mean and median average Gender Pay Gap figures for a snapshot in time on April 5, 2020. The mean Gender Pay Gap shows the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women in our organisation in the UK, while the median Gender Pay Gap shows the difference between the midpoints in the range of hourly earnings for men and women. 

 

Our 2020 mean Gender Pay Gap was 29.6% and the median Gender Pay Gap was 32.3%. Both of these gaps show a year-on-year improvement compared with 2019; the mean Gender Pay Gap reduced by 10%, while the median gap reduced by 6.3%.

 

We’re making progress. But, as with most of our industry peers, these results show that there is still a gender pay gap within our organisation.  For context, in 2019, the insurance industry’s median Gender Pay Gap was 30% compared with 12.9% for all UK companies. We need to address this disparity, but we also recognise that it is not a quick fix and there is much work to be done.

 

At AXA XL, we’re taking decisive steps to address the imbalance in gender equality in our industry, and our own organisation specifically. One of these steps was the rollout in 2020 of an updated Diverse Slate Policy, which requires hiring managers to interview a slate made up of at least 50% women for every open role across all levels in our organisation.

 

More senior women 

In 2018, we signed up to the Women in Finance Charter, a pledge to work towards gender balance across financial services in the UK. We believe we are on track to meet our charter goal of 35% of senior roles in the UK filled by women by 2023; at the end of 2020, women held 32% of senior roles in our UK organisation. 

 

One of the measures that we record as part of Gender Pay Gap Reporting is the Bonus Gap. This is an indicator of how many women are in, or being promoted to, senior roles. I’m pleased to say that the proportion of men and women receiving a bonus in our organisation for the year to April 5, 2020 showed a step in the right direction; 95.4% of female colleagues received a bonus, compared with 95.3% of male colleagues (compared with 93.6% for women and 95.6% for men in 2019). 

 

But there is a way to go before the Bonus Gap is closed. The Bonus Gap shows the mean and median differences in the amount of bonus pay awarded to male colleagues compared to the bonuses awarded to female colleagues. At April 5, 2020, our mean and median bonus gaps were 56.8% and 45.4%, respectively. This is a marked improvement on the comparable period for 2019 (which showed a mean of 60.9% and median of 58.5%), but we want to narrow this gap still further by making sure we have more women in senior roles being remunerated for their high performance.  

 

Our leaders understand our commitment to creating an inclusive culture and achieving gender parity. And they recognise their responsibility in making this happen. Each and every one of our leaders is accountable for driving inclusion and gender parity across their business units. We have put in place specific goals for our leadership teams to increase the representation of women in leadership roles – these are broken down into recruitment, promotion and retention. 

 

This is important not only because it will improve the representation of women in the leadership of our organisation, but also because it will have a cascade effect all the way through our business. We want women looking at this industry – and at AXA XL in particular – to see people like them at the top, achieving their goals. 

 

As we move forward, we have set ourselves some ambitious targets to ensure that our momentum towards better gender balance continues. One of our strategies for 2021 is to set goals – and hold leaders accountable – for increasing the representation of women in senior leadership globally. 

 

As part of this, senior leaders will sponsor high-potential women to take on critical, on-the-job development opportunities. The aim is to accelerate the advancement of women by giving them an equal opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities in taking on large and highly visible projects, mission-critical roles and international assignments. Leaders will identify these opportunities and ensure that women across our organisation have the resources they need to be successful and, crucially, that they are given the visibility to showcase their accomplishments. 

 

Making I&D part of our ID

Achieving better gender balance is just one part of our drive to create a more inclusive and diverse workforce, and to make AXA XL the employer of choice for people of all backgrounds.


During 2020, we revamped our Business Resource Groups (BRGs), which have specific goals that work towards making AXA XL a place where all colleagues feel welcomed and able to reach their highest potential. 

 

These BRGs now comprise 25 chapters around the world. The Pride BRG provides a forum for LGBT+ colleagues and allies to network; the Rise BRG aims to support the development and inclusion of colleagues from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups; EnAble seeks to foster the inclusion of colleagues with disabilities – both visible and invisible.

 

And the LEAD BRG aims to encourage a culture of inclusion for all colleagues. LEAD – Leading, Empowering and Advancing Diversity – seeks to engage both women and men to accelerate gender equality at AXA XL. Achieving gender equality in the workplace is a job for all of us. 


We’re treating I&D as we would any other business priority. I truly believe that having an inclusive culture and diverse workforce makes our workplace better for everyone – for us as individuals and as a company and for the clients whom we serve. 


(Author: Sean McGovern is CEO, UK & Lloyd's market at AXA XL. Views are personal)



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