Women in Finance Charter: Helping us to think differently

OAC news

28 November 2017

An interview with Darren Richards, Chief Executive at OAC.

So, six months in, how has OAC changed since signing up to the Women in Finance Charter?

Being honest, signing up to the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter could easily have been a single point in our evolution; setting targets, a bit of PR and basically a tick box exercise. However, I am proud to say something has changed within OAC. There were several voices, both male and female, within the company who had mixed feelings about being part of the Charter, but the more we progress, the more we have seen the benefits – but often outside our original Charter targets.

Would you change your original targets now?

We would. What we have learnt is that some signatory companies to the Charter may view their 'progress' as an increased level of gender diversity within their Board and Senior Management. We were lucky to start from reasonable gender representation at that level, and realise the need to improve, but the real eureka moment for us has been in understanding our specific actuarial sector.

There are really troubling statistics about how easy it is to lose people from the actuarial profession in the middle part of careers, which is a real loss of talent. To have individuals, companies and the profession invest such significant amounts of time and money in training people, only to lose them due to a lack of flexibility and the challenge of getting back into the profession after a period of caring for children or other career breaks, is the real issue.

How do you approach this issue?

The biggest change in our diversity awareness, driven by the Women in Finance Charter, is how our flexible working model can not only benefit our current employees but also be a platform for reclaiming lost talent. We think differently now and play the long game. If an individual doesn't necessarily have up-to-date experience we find ways of welcoming them into the company, sometimes in a different temporary role, and then bring them to the level where they resurrect their career. For some, this is the only option they have.

What other activities have you undertaken?

The Women in Finance Charter has made us think differently about our business, the actuarial profession and the wider financial services sector. 

As a result of our experience and following a program of research and analysis, two of our colleagues, Claire Lightwood and Cara Spinks, have presented at the premier actuarial event, the IFoA Life Conference, on the subject of diversity. This opportunity allowed us to appeal to the profession as a whole to look at ways to retain and retrain actuarial talent. Our research included input from Virgin Money and the IFoA which provided valuable insight for the presentation and into our own diversity strategy. Whilst gender diversity is currently the focus, we also need to address other elements of diversity and this will also be at the forefront of our strategic thinking.

Related information:

Darren Richards

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Darren Richards
Chief Executive Officer

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