Closing The Gap

Lloyd's of London CEO isn’t proud of its gender pay gap — but she’s fighting for change

As the debate surrounding pay disparity gathers momentum, U.K. businesses are being pressed to publish their own reports on how much they pay each sex.

One of the latest to release such data is Lloyd's of London, a specialist insurance market. According to the company, it has a pay gap of 27.7 percent — a figure that its chief executive is determined to minimize.

"Basically that's driven because we've got less than a third, or about a third of our senior positions are held by women. And that's a simple fact," Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd's of London, told CNBC Thursday.

Lloyd's dates back as far as 1688, but it wasn't until 1969 when the firm allowed women to invest in the company. Until the 1970s, female employees hadn't entered the business, with the first female broker not coming into Lloyd's until 1973.

Inga Beale, chief executive officer of Lloyd's of London
Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Inga Beale, chief executive officer of Lloyd's of London

"When we think back over the centuries that Lloyd's has been doing business, of course we understand that women weren't even in the workplace for several hundred years," said Beale.

"It's relatively recent that women have been in the workplace in Lloyds. And therefore that is one excuse or a couple of excuses why the gender pay gap is there, but it's not good enough."

"I'm really not proud of it at all," Beale concluded.

In the U.K., firms that have 250 employees or more are now legally required to release their gender pay gap data to the public by April. Aside from Lloyd's, a number of companies in the financial sector have reported, including Barclays, Standard Chartered and Virgin Money. However, according to the Financial Times, only one-sixth of U.K. employers in general have submitted their data, as of last week.

Lloyd's has become more involved in inclusivity as of late, with a number of inclusion and diversity networks formed in 2014, in addition to Lloyd's recently becoming a signatory to the Women in Finance Charter and committing to the Working Forward campaign.

According to Beale, Lloyd's was one of the first signatories to the Women in Finance Charter, meaning that the company could set targets for what they were going to do, in terms of improving gender diversity at the senior levels.

In conversation with CNBC, Beale said Lloyd's now has its own gender balance objectives, with the company aiming to have at least 40 percent of each gender represented.

"For me, it was important to have men and women in that statement (and) we are making great strides onto that."

In Lloyd's gender pay gap report, the company said it had a 50:50 gender balance across the executive committee, however within the highest paying quartile, 66.2 percent were men, compared to 33.8 percent women.

Lloyd's has several objectives for 2018, which includes a pilot of a tailored female development program, conducting a full review of its family care policies and improving flexible working for all employees.

For Beale and the company, Lloyd's is "committed" to closing this gap, by improving gender and broader diversity across all working levels.

"So the gender pay gap data is from April last year, we've already increased the percentage of women to nearly 37 percent in our senior leadership and our 40 percent minimum is our 2020 targets."

"I'm confident we're going to get there," she concluded.

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