FERMA is currently assessing how to assess and promote improvements in diversity across the profession led by President Julia Graham. She says, “As with any role, appointments should be based on merit, objective criteria and with regard to the benefits of diversity, including gender. Evidence shows that decisions are inevitably better made when the full range of gender, race and experiences is involved.”

FERMA, she says, is a good example of a diverse organisation with its female president (the second), 40 per cent women and a good range of age, backgrounds and cultures represented on the board. She adds, however, “FERMA can do better and risk manager and insurance manager diversity could be better. I don’t support diversity quotas, but I did make a pledge when I took up office at FERMA to champion improvements in diversity across our profession.”

One step is the inclusion of a question on diversity in the section on the profession in the FERMA risk and insurance management survey which will be launched in March. This will help FERMA gather more relevant data about the profile of people now in the profession.

At the Forum in October 2013, FERMA organised a lunch for women risk professionals with the topic ‘women on boards’. There were two speakers from different backgrounds with extensive experience at that level: Janet Legrand, partner and senior elected board member at the law firm DLA Piper and Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae, full time non-executive board professional and business advisor at Scandinavian companies.

Julia refers to the 2007 McKinsey study, Women Matter, which provided clear evidence that companies with strong female representation at board and top management level performed better than those without, and that gender diverse boards have a positive impact on corporate performance.

She adds, “The trend for transparency of corporate reporting across Europe on diversity will no doubt apply a ‘stick’ to some organisations which have been slow on the uptake of the diversity agenda.”
A copy of the report can be obtained at the following address:

Member diversity initiatives

At the same time, some FERMA member associations are taking their own initiatives.
BELRIM held a Ladies Mind Risk Event in January to kick-off a yearly series of activities targeted at women in risk management. Members Catherine Van Cauwelaert (EUROCLEAR) and Sabine Desantoine (ING) were the driving forces behind this event.

The guest speaker was Lieve Mostrey chief operating officer at Euroclear, the world’s largest securities settlement system, on the topic: “Which added value can top executive women bring in the area of risk management?”

Lieve gave an interactive presentation of her personal views and 30 years of experience on diversity in general and on gender diversity in particular and some tips for women on how to move up the corporate ladder.

Mixed teams make a difference in a global world, she said. “Any decision requires analysis on many dimensions. We are all programmed and equipped differently to analyse certain aspects. Very often corporate organizations are mono-cultural, mono-educational, mono-experienced, so obviously when it comes to decision making many aspects are missed out on.”

Gender, Lieve said, is only one aspect of diversity. Culture is another aspect. A culture that gives value to diversity is needed to make wise decisions and that is the core of risk management. A full report of the event is available at

Airmic is trying to identify why women are so scarce at risk management events. It estimates that women are now 40 per cent of members, but they represent only about 10 to 15 per cent of the attendance at events.

Airmic chief executive John Hurrell said he would welcome suggestions from women members on how the association could engage them better. “Are there more things we could be doing to encourage women to take part in our events? I honestly don’t know. If anyone has any views on the subject I would love to hear them.”

What is your association doing? Julia would like to know. If you have initiatives to encourage more diversity among risk managers in your country, please email the FERMA office at