Lloyds of London dates back as far as 1688, however, it wasn’t until 1969 when the firm allowed women to be involved in its business by passing a resolution to admit women as investors (also known as Names). This development contributed to a change of attitudes and just a year later, Countess Inchcape was welcomed into the market as Lloyd’s first female underwriter. However, she wasn’t allowed in the Room to conduct business personally, and she was only allowed to communicate with her clients through a male agent.

It wasn’t until 1973 that Liliana Archibald became the first female to be allowed to conduct business in Lloyd’s underwriting room. By 1983, more than 400 women were broking risks in the Room regularly, and nearly 4,000 were names. At this time there was a strict dress code for women as they were expected to wear skirt suits only and were prohibited from wearing trousers.

In 2014, Inga Beale made history by becoming the first female CEO and she was committed to making Lloyds of London more diverse and inclusive as she stated  “I believe that if we can get this gender thing right, we can then get it right for all sorts of other groups that feel perhaps marginalized or underrepresented, particularly in the senior levels in the workplace” (CNBC, 2018). Lloyds has since focused on committing to several initiatives with the aim of building an increasingly diverse, inclusive, and innovative market. In 2015, Lloyd’s launched Dive In, which is a multi-award-winning festival for diversity and inclusion in Insurance, that is aimed at building awareness, and at helping to recognise our own unconscious biases. Additionally, in 2016 Lloyd’s became a charter signatory of the Women in Finance Charter, which is a government-backed initiative that was developed to help improve gender diversity in senior management across the financial services sector.

Lloyds exceeded its previous target of at least 40% women and 40% men in senior management by 2021 (Lloyds, 2021). As of 30th June 2021, Lloyd’s had 43% women in leadership. The organisation now continues to strive to meet its long-term goal of gender parity by 2030. Lloyd’s has stated that they are “committed to creating greater gender equality at all levels across the Corporation, as well as working with stakeholders to achieve the same in the market. The outcome will be an insurance industry that better represents our customers, has more equality at all levels within an organisation, and significant progress on closing the gender pay gap.”

Whilst Lloyds has made significant progress in terms of women’s rights and gender parity, they still have a long way to go. Their continued efforts to strive towards gender equality are critical for the market’s future, and for the long-term success of London as a financial centre.