On 8th March – International Women’s Day - the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) gathered more than 20 professionals from the risk discipline at a lunch in central London to discuss the issue of gender diversity. The event was held in partnership with Old Mutual Wealth.

Nicola Crawford, on behalf of the IRM, opened the meeting by asking the group – a near 50-50 split between men and women – whether they thought a gender diversity issue exists specifically in risk management, and if so, whether it is unique to risk management or a challenge across all professions in a particular industry.

The ensuing discussion has been captured in this full article.

Key conclusions stressed the importance of the Snowball Effect – that is, how recruiting more women creates an environment into which more women are recruited -, the importance of retention as well as recruitment, and the critical role that company culture plays in shaping an organisation’s approach to diversity. 

Reflecting on the event, Intrinsic’s Chief Risk Officer, Gill Davidson said: “In creating an opportunity to discuss the value of gender diversity in the risk sector, the IRM provoked a challenging and lively debate.  Key conclusions were that setting the right tone from the top, through Board and executive leadership, was crucial along with acknowledging the impact of unconscious bias.  With a debate spanning multiple sectors and jurisdictions many common themes were highlighted with the overwhelming conclusion that gender diversity across all risk disciplines delivers significant business benefits.”

Old Mutual Wealth’s Regulatory & Conduct Risk Director, Hollie Swift added: “What was interesting was that for the financial services industry, there was general agreement that risk was ahead of the game in terms of gender diversity, with some good female representation noted in a number of the sectors.  The challenge for our industry clearly lies in the wider business leadership forums in which senior risk leaders participate, where often there is a distinct lack of gender balance around the table.”

Closing the event, Nicola Crawford said: “Given the success of the IRM Women in Risk roundtable discussion further sessions are due to be held with particular regional and industry focus to assess if there are differences as highlighted.  We are also looking to work with other professional bodies and women’s networks to focus our research and get a wider reach. I am excited about finding out more about people’s views and experiences.”

Download the full “Risk Management and Gender Diversity – Mind the Gap?” article here.