Aviva chief Amanda Blanc has spoken out against sexism in the City, after she was subjected to a barrage of “sexist and derogatory” comments at Aviva’s annual general meeting (AGM).
The insurance industry veteran said she had observed an increase in incidents of overt sexism during her 30+ years in the financial services sector, as she hit back at those who made “inappropriate” comments at Aviva’s first in-person AGM since the start of Covid-19.
Blanc’s statement comes after Aviva chair George Culmer said he had been left “flabbergasted” by a torrent of “inappropriate” comments targeted towards Blanc other female board members at Aviva’s general meeting.
The AGM saw one shareholder ask whether Blanc should be “wearing trousers,” as another suggested she is “not the man for the job”.
Blanc said that while “this type of stuff used to be said in private, perhaps from the safety of four walls inside an office – the fact that people are now making these comments in a public AGM is a new development.”
The company boss said she had picked up her “fair share of misogynistic scars” during her time in the boardrooms of major insurers including Axa and Zurich Group, as she said she is now “pretty used to sexist and derogatory comments”.
The Aviva chief said that while she hopes “initiatives seeking gender equality” may help eradicate this sort of behaviour, true equality still “seems a long way off.”
Blanc said the City now has little choice but to “redouble” its efforts to fight sexism as she thanked all those who had shown their support.