International Women's Day

‘Invest in women: accelerate progress’: celebrating International Women’s Day

In this article, the women who sit on Hiscox London Market’s Leadership Team reflect on what ‘invest in women: accelerate progress’ means to them and how businesses can do more, while sharing their personal experiences and perspectives on what it takes to come back to work after a career break, how businesses need to approach the recruitment and retention of female talent, and why the insurance industry needs more women applying for senior underwriting roles. 

What ‘invest in women: accelerate progress’ means to me…

‘Invest in women: accelerate progress’ to me is about paying it forward. Every one of us is playing a role in making it easier for the next generation to come through. It’s about giving people the support they need at critical moments in their career, for example when returning from maternity leave, and making sure they don’t opt out of great roles because of a lack of support. It’s about creating role models so everyone can see someone like them in senior roles, and making sure these people are accessible so they can share their stories. It’s about mentoring and sponsorship, so we can help guide, coach and champion talent coming through, removing blockers and opening doors.” – Kate Markham, CEO, Hiscox London Market

...and how businesses can do more to ‘invest in women: accelerate progress’ 

“It’s important to create a workspace where people feel able to be themselves and bring all of themselves to work. Doing this involves a certain amount of bravery, but that bravery pays off by pushing the boundaries of others’ understanding. I regularly tell the working parents in my team not to hide how hard it is to have two full time jobs. We do ourselves a disservice by pretending it is easier than it is, and the result of that is to delay progress and understanding around challenges. – Rebecca Hartley, Head of London Market Claims, Hiscox London Market

Recruiting, retaining, and developing female talent…

“The key to accelerating progress is a continual and collective effort across a number of different initiatives. For example, in recruitment, we introduced gender balanced candidate shortlists several years ago, and more recently, gender balanced interview panels. We will always make sure that the best person gets the job, but it allows us to choose from a more diverse pool, and the result is we’ve been able to attract some incredible female talent into our business. Supporting and developing our female talent has also been high on our agenda. Success for me is when we have diversity at all levels of our organisation. When I look around, the Hiscox London Market Leadership team has a 50/50 gender split, including our first female Divisional Director.” – Jenny Munce, People Director, Hiscox London Market

Coming back to work after taking a career break…

“I had a five-year career break and returned to work when my youngest son was in reception. I started in a full-time role, in a new company and new industry, which is not the easiest way to do it. However, I think the initiatives that can make a real difference when returning from a career break include a gradual ramping up of hours, asking for a good period of handover time, as well as having an understanding manager who knows that a period of adjustment may be required, and that things may not always go to plan to begin with; flexibility on both sides is key. I also think you have to fight the desire to feel you have to do the job perfectly and that you have to prove yourself.” – Helen Rose, Chief Financial Officer, Hiscox London Market

Feeling more included…

“Like any new joiner the days leading up to my first day at Hiscox were mixed with excitement and nerves. Given that the Chief Risk Officer role was new to the London Market Leadership Team, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have been impressed not only by the great level of risk awareness, but also with the culture of openness and inclusivity. The opportunity to be part of the 2024 Hiscox London Market annual business planning launch event and sit alongside my fellow Leadership Team members in the Q&A sessions was certainly one of the highlights. Not only did it make me feel very much part of the team, but it also gave me complete clarity on Hiscox London Market’s ambitions.” – Charlotte Paterson, Chief Risk Officer, Hiscox London Market

Applying for senior roles…

“My advice for women wanting to apply for senior underwriting jobs would be to do it! It is easy to over analyse and focus on all the things that you may struggle with for a senior role instead of appreciating all the things you can do well. Without a plethora of senior female underwriters in the insurance market it takes courage to think about how you want to do the job, and it is important to remember that each role does not have to resemble how a predecessor may have done it. If the opportunity arises, I would encourage anyone to grab it with both hands.” – Emily Taylor, Marine Energy & Specialty Divisional Director, Hiscox London Market

It takes courage

What many of these experiences highlight is that for a business to transition towards a more equal world it takes courage and bravery on behalf of every individual, coupled with an organisation’s willingness and determination to invest in women by recruiting, supporting and developing female talent. Most of all, concludes Kate Markham, “it’s about welcoming people with different backgrounds and perspectives, and then listening to them (truly listening to them), so that together we are stronger. There is more to do, but if we each play a role in paying it forward, we will make Hiscox a great place to develop a career for all.


  • London Market