Sexism in business world getting worse, says Aviva boss

Sexism in business world getting worse, says Aviva boss

Amanda Blanc, one of the few women to head a FTSE 100-listed company as boss of British insurer Aviva, has said misogyny against women in business is getting worse.

Her comments, in a message posted Wednesday on the social network Linkedin, came after shareholders made sexist remarks at the firm’s annual general meeting (AGM) earlier this week.

They included investors saying Blanc was “not the man for the job” and should be “wearing trousers”.

That prompted a flood of messages of support for the Aviva chief executive, which she said had left her “truly overwhelmed” and appreciative.

“After 30+ years in financial services I am pretty used to sexist and derogatory comments like those in the AGM yesterday,” Blanc wrote in her 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 behaviour.

“The surprising thing is that this type of stuff used to be said in private… the fact that people are now making these comments in a public AGM is a new development for me personally.”

Blanc took up the role in July 2020 at Aviva, whose board is 40 percent female.

The chief executive added that she still hoped initiatives seeking gender equality could help the next generation avoid sexism.

“But in truth that seems a long way off; even with the help of some fantastically supportive men who speak out on the issue,” she said.

“So we have little choice other than to redouble our efforts together.”

The FTSE 100, which includes the 100 biggest companies in London, has fewer than 10 female CEOs, including Blanc.

Carolyn McCall at ITV, Alison Rose at NatWest, Emma Walmsley at GSK, Alison Brittain at Whitbread and Liv Garfield at Severn Trent are among some of them. — Agence France-Presse


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