The boss of Aviva has revealed senior white male recruits have to get a final sign-off from her and the chief people officer as part of the firm’s drive to improve diversity.
Amanda Blanc, who became the insurer’s first female chief executive in 2020, said the policy formed part of its efforts to end sexism in the financial services industry.
The 56-year-old told MPs on the Treasury select committee that ‘there is no non-diverse hire at Aviva without it being signed off by me and the chief people officer’.
Speaking at the Sexism in the City inquiry yesterday, she continued: ‘Not because I don’t trust my team but because I want to make sure that the process followed for that recruitment has been diverse, has been properly done and is not just a phone call to a mate to say, ‘would you like a job, pop up and we’ll fix it up for you’.’
Sources told MailOnline that if the preferred candidate for a senior role at the firm is not diverse – meaning they are ‘not different to the majority of people’ employed by Aviva – then Mrs Blanc and the chief people officer check the recruitment process.
It is also understood that the company prioritises finding the best candidate for the job, but they also want to recruit a diverse workforce. Some 5 per cent of the firm’s overall roles are for senior leaders and 60 per cent of its senior leaders are men. Mrs Blanc was speaking only about senior hires at Aviva, which has 22,000 staff overall.
During the hearing yesterday Mrs Blanc, who also sits on BP’s board, warned that sexism in the financial services sector is worse than in wider society.
She told MPs that while she had some ‘very positive experiences’ in the industry, ‘many women do not’.
Mrs Blanc, who lives in Hampshire with her husband Ken and has two daughters aged 21 and 17, added: ‘We are dealing with a societal issue that is definitely amplified in financial services.’
She was speaking to the Treasury committee as part of the third public hearing of its sexism inquiry, which was launched after a flurry of harassment allegations rocked the business world.
Mrs Blanc revealed that women from across the industry had been writing to her in recent days as she prepared for the hearing, sharing ‘absolutely appalling’ accounts of harassment, including unwanted sexual advances, being followed into hotel rooms, or being told their pregnancies were ‘inconvenient’ for the firm.
The testimonies also included evidence of women being excluded from key meetings and overlooked for promotions.
The City is under fresh scrutiny after a string of controversies this year, including scandals at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and a flurry of claims brought against hedge fund manager Crispin Odey.
Her comments also came on the same day that former BP boss Bernard Looney was forced to forfeit £32.4million after he committed ‘serious misconduct’ over relationships with colleagues.