Aviva chief Amanda Blanc claims sexism is ‘amplified’ in the financial services industry

The boss of Aviva has said sexism in the financial services sector is worse than in wider society.

Amanda Blanc, who became the insurer’s first female chief executive in 2020 and sits on BP’s board, told MPs that while she had some ‘very positive experiences’ in the industry, she said that ‘many women do not’.

‘We are dealing with a societal issue that is definitely amplified in financial services,’ she added.

Blanc, 56, was speaking to the Treasury committee as part of its sexism in the City inquiry, launched after harassment allegations rocked the business world.

Blanc said women had been writing to her as she prepared for the hearing to share ‘absolutely appalling’ accounts of harassment, including sexual advances, being followed into hotel rooms, or being told their pregnancies were ‘inconvenient’. 

Amanda Blanc, who became Aviva’s first female chief exec in 2020, told MPs that while she had ‘very positive experiences’ in the industry, ‘many women do not’

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 claims against hedge fund manager Crispin Odey.

Blanc said that Aviva had acted to sack male employees. 

She told MPs: ‘The women in the firm have to know that there is a process for speaking up; that that process will be acted on; that everything will be investigated; and the person who did the bad leaves, not the women.’

‘We have had experiences like that at Aviva, where the woman has stayed and man has gone.’ 

She said senior white male recruits have to get a final sign-off from her and the chief people officer.

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