What does Inga Beale, Lloyd’s of London’s first female CEO think it will take to close the gender pay gap? Transparency, good data and a genuine commitment by companies to reflect and act on achieving gender parity at all levels of their businesses. In Hayley’s latest interview, Beale emphasises the need to improve the seniority of women in organisations, leading to women attaining more of the highest paid top positions now predominantly occupied by men.
Looking at her own company, Lloyd’s of London, Beale talks about the need for flexible working environments,
“Very often it's the woman who might use or need to use part time flexibility. They might have caring responsibilities that they need to attend to, and often that falls more on the women. We're encouraging firms to do more of that and have a very flexible approach, looking at things like equal shared parental leave. Anything that brings balance and equality into policies and practices.”
In leading policy change to support women to advance in their careers, Beale thinks back to her own challenges with confidence,
“I think of my younger Inga, that rather timid tentative soul who actually said 'no' to her first promotion, I can't hardly recognise that person. But now if there's anything I can do to encourage women, because this is a slightly gender biased topic in that more women than men lack confidence, I found. Anything I can do to spur the younger women on to put their hand up. Be confident and go for those roles and take on those opportunities.”
How can companies be better about encouraging women to pursue leadership positions? By adopting mentorship and sponsorship programmes. Beale describes a sponsor she had, who went above and beyond the advice and support of a traditional mentor,
“She actually helped me make decisions and take career steps in the company that I was working in and would make sure my name was on lists. She would put my name forward she was a great reference for me. I was able to reach out to her and use her influence to help me progress my career in that firm.”
Through her success in the insurance industry, Beale struggled with bringing her whole self, a bisexual woman, to work.
“We need role models, I need to be a role model, to encourage others because I saw the power it gave me at work and I felt that I was much more productive… It's still important to be that role model to encourage others to be yourself at work because I see what it does and how it can inhibit you and affect your enjoyment and your feeling of inclusion or exclusion at work.”
As a leader at one of the world’s most successful firms, what does success personally mean to Beale?
“To empower women in business gives me an enormous satisfaction. Now it's become even broader than that and I want to empower all sorts of people who might feel slightly in the minority. I think of the LGBT community and how they're not feeling part of the mainstream workforce or not accepted yet, or people of colour, perhaps feeling still on the outside, particularly in the professional services financial services sector. If I've done something to empower those people and give them the confidence and courage to aim high and take all of those top jobs, those senior jobs, I will have been personally successful.”