Sexism in Financial Services Has Gotten Worse, Says Aviva CEO Amanda Blanc

By Will Louch | May 12, 2022

Aviva Plc Chief Executive Officer Amanda Blanc said that the sexism she encounters has worsened as she has risen through the ranks in finance.

Blanc became the insurer’s first female chief executive in July 2020 but faced a number of offensive comments from shareholders at the FTSE 100-listed firm’s annual shareholder meeting on Monday. These included individual shareholders telling Blanc that she was “not the man for the job” and questioned whether she should be “wearing trousers.”

Amanda Blanc

Blanc responded to the comments yesterday in a post on LinkedIn where she said that after working in the financial services industry for more than 30 years she was “pretty used to sexist and derogatory comments,” like those that were made at the AGM.

“I guess that after you have heard the same prejudicial rhetoric for so long though, it makes you a little immune to it all,” Blanc wrote in the post. “I would like to tell you that things have got better in recent years but it’s fair to say that it has actually increased – the more senior the role I have taken, the more overt the unacceptable behavior.”

She said that usually derogatory comments were made in private and the fact people were making these comments in public was a new development for her personally.

The insurance sector has been dogged by allegations of sexism in recent years. A 2019 Bloomberg investigation uncovered evidence of endemic sexual harassment at the world’s oldest insurance market [Lloyd’s], including inappropriate comments, unwanted touching and sexual assault.

Top photograph: A woman walks with a business bag. Photo credit:Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

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