International Women’s Day – interview with Tanya Gerrard-White

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To celebrate International Women’s Day on Sunday 8th March, Tanya Gerrard-White, Director of HR and Talent Development at Markerstudy, talks about gender equality at Markerstudy and in the industry, as well as her own personal achievements.

1 Why is gender equality in the workplace an important issue for Markerstudy right now?

Traditionally a male dominated industry, our Insurance arm now has many senior women who have progressed naturally through our Group due to their talent, which is a joy to see.

We’re committed to promoting people who have, or show potential Talent, in their roles – and the person’s gender is totally irrelevant.

2 Markerstudy’s gender pay gap report shows that there is still some work that could be done to get more women into senior management roles. How is the company planning to encourage this?

Our ethos is to promote from within, support all Talent and if you are good enough, you are old enough – so age and gender have never been deciding factors, nor should they be. Equally, we don’t age-discriminate at the other end of the spectrum, either.

Our senior team currently consists of 29% women. Women bring a different dimension to the senior team, holding alternative views and perspectives, which adds enormous value and balance.

3 In what areas of work are you most proud of women’s achievements at Markerstudy?

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Our Senior Management team run large parts of our business, often while balancing family commitments and life outside work.

We have a 50% balance between men and women at Manger level and this is something we are proud of.

I’m also pleased to say that, completely coincidentally, our male and female Markerstudy Champions have been equally represented for the last few years.

In addition, our senior women have been invited to represent other bodies within the insurance industry. Lizzie Smith-Foreman is an active member of the Conference and Sponsorships Committee for the Managing General Agents' Association and Ann Pelaez is a member of the ACII.

4 What is your personal achievement that you are most proud of?

1. Moving career from Nursing to the commercial world, and thriving in a male dominated Financial sector,

2. Being respected and taken seriously as a senior executive,

3. For being judged not for my gender, but on my results and ability to keep up the pace;

4. And nurturing and developing a team with 70% females who, whilst carrying out their roles, are frequently juggling family, life and the menopause!

5 Having good family-friendly working policies helps to both attract and retain staff. What is Markerstudy currently doing to support employees with families?

We are extremely supportive of work/life balance and we offer flexibility within the work place whether that is reduced hours, consolidated hours, flexible and different shift patterns, working from home, or parental leave.

We offer enhanced holiday entitlement as well as the opportunity to purchase extra time off. We believe flexibility is important to support families.

One example from our Shooting Stars cohort is Michelle Giaramita who returned from maternity leave to work on a 25-hour contract. Her Manager recognised her potential and put her forward to this fast-track programme to develop her into a management role. Her working pattern has been amended so she can attend workshops face-to-face with others.

Michelle Giaramita

6 Companies with the most generous maternity packages tend to offer employees anywhere between six and nine months leave on full pay and a variety of flexi work options for new parents on their return to work. Markerstudy currently offers 10 weeks leave on full pay for those who have been here for two years (by the time the baby is 15 weeks away from its due date) and 6 weeks at 90% pay for those who have worked here for less than two years. Are there any plans to increase Markerstudy’s maternity pay? What sort of flexi work options are available to new parents?

There are no plans to increase Markerstudy’s maternity pay.

We offer the ability to request part time / flexi work on return from maternity leave and full support is given to parents to ensure they can exhaust all options to achieve the working pattern that suits them.

We embraced the determination of a recent maternity returner (Sammie Davenport, IT Business Management Analyst) to take on a project to review our processes and information and make recommendations on how we could improve. We have now published her guide and awarded her idea the seal of approval from the board, winning Sammie the title of Bright Spark.

We encourage keep-in-touch days and ask how the maternity leaver would like to be contacted and how often.

We continue to include our maternity leavers in events and Group Comms, such as receipt of our internal Messenger magazine, advent calendar, invites to parties, etc.

7 In a recent interview with Insurance UK, you mentioned that Generation Z employees want very different things from their working environment and that this is driving some of Markerstudy’s employee development initiatives. Are any of these initiatives geared at engaging women in this younger demographic?

We are not specifically targeting women in this generation, but do ensure that all the initiatives can be accessed by all.

8 Do you think there will ever be a woman on the board of directors?

As previously mentioned, the Group actively encourages a culture of ‘the best person for the job’ and welcome women’s voices in senior positions in the business.

As a Group, we would not want to patronise any woman by offering her a place on the Board just to get representation, and none of our senior women would want this - they know they are respected and related to as an equal and subject matter expert in their own right.