Amanda Blanc on Desert Island Discs: Aviva chief speaks out against misogyny
Aviva chief executive Amanda Blanc has spoken out on the iconic BBC show Desert Island Discs about the misogyny she experienced as chair of the Welsh Rugby Union and at her FTSE 100 firm’s AGM last year.
At the shareholder meeting ast year Blanc said that she was the target of a number of sexist remarks by shareholders which left her in “complete disbelief”.
“It was an elderly gentleman, he stood up and said, it’s great to see so many women on the board, because they’re so good at housekeeping,” Blanc told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
Blanc, who has headed Aviva for almost three years, told host Lauren Laverne that another shareholder insinuated that the chief was not “the man for the job” and she was also criticised for her decision not to wear trousers.
“The more senior the role I have taken, the more overt the unacceptable behaviour,” Blanc wrote then.
Blanc, who has held a number of senior level roles, also told the BBC that she was “simply not listened to” during her stint as chair of WRU.
“I’ve been in business for a long period of time, but when you are just simply not listened to, some misogynistic comments,” she said.
She continued: “There was one [question] which was ‘what do you know about governance?’. Well, quite a lot actually. I’ve got 32 years of experience and I operate in a regulated business.
“Nobody else was asked that question, but I was. I got an apology for that actually, a written apology for it.”
Blanc, who was born in Rhondda Valley in Wales, said that she was forced to step down from the role she held for less than two years due to the misogyny she faced.
Her resignation came as a separate BBC Wales Investigates programme was launched which revealed accusations of sexism and misogyny within the WRU.
The scandal ultimately led to the resignation of former chief executive Steve Phillips.