Sexism row at Aviva as shareholder tells chief exec Amanda Blanc: You’re not ‘the man’ for top job
Aviva was engulfed in a sexism row at its annual general meeting yesterday after shareholders directed a number of derogatory comments at chief executive Amanda Blanc.
One investor complained that Blanc was not ‘the man for the job’ while another congratulated the insurer on its board diversity by saying women were ‘so good at basic housekeeping activities’.
Chairman George Culmer said he was ‘flabbergasted’ by the question-and-answer session.
Sexist comments: Amanda Blanc (pictured) became the first woman to lead a major British insurer when she was appointed boss in 2020. Shares are up 47% since she arrived
He said: ‘I’m not going to say thank you to everyone for your comments, because I think there were some comments in that session that were simply inappropriate and I do not expect and would [not] want to hear at any future AGM.
‘I’m flabbergasted, to be honest.’
Blanc became the first woman to lead a major British insurer when she was appointed boss in 2020. Shares are up 47 per cent since she took the reins.
She was praised for her efficiency in the year following her appointment, as she began to streamline Aviva at pace by selling off a swathe of foreign units.
But one shareholder at the AGM, Michael Mason-Mahon, mentioned her predecessors and questioned whether 55-year-old Blanc should be ‘wearing trousers’.
Another, Ted O’Toole, seemed appreciative of the board’s gender split, as almost half are women.
But he added: ‘They are so good at basic housekeeping activities, I’m sure this will be reflected in the direction of the board in future.’
Another grumbled that Aviva’s share price had not risen enough, even though Blanc had pushed ahead with sales of businesses it no longer needed. This ‘signifies she’s not the man for the job’, he added.