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IWD: #InspireInclusion with Deepika Zingade, HR Vice President, Asia Pacific at Swiss Re

  • Publish Date: Posted 5 months ago
  • Author:by Lucas Tan

​​This International Women's Day, I interviewed Deepika Zingade, HR Vice President, Asia Pacific at Swiss Re, and she shared her thoughts on how we can #InspireInclusion.

When we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world. The IWD 2024 campaign theme seeks to inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion. Organisations, groups, and individuals worldwide can all play a part, and to truly include women means to openly embrace their diversity of race, age, ability, faith, body image, and how they identify.

International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere. Collectively, we can all help create a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.

1. Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

I believe in the value of seeing how far we have come in terms of evolving women's rights across the globe, in governments and corporations, as more talented women from all geographies, backgrounds and abilities are pushing boundaries, achieving greater heights as well as to celebrate those who paved the way for us to get here. It is a reminder to continue to do more, challenge norms and support those who are still struggling as well as treasuring our unique experiences, perspectives and contributions in the world.

2. What advice would you give aspiring women in the industry you work in?

Our insurance industry has progressed by increasing respect for women, establishing a greater sense of equality and fairness in the availability of opportunities to grow in our careers and cultivating a culture where speaking up is encouraged. I have worked with truly remarkable women leaders who have shown me the power of working hard, rising through the ranks, challenging the status quo, being open to sharing vulnerabilities and striving to enrich the careers of others who need support and guidance. My advice to aspiring women is to treasure their unique career vision, create shared accountability to achieve their goals with others they can collaborate with, ask for help when different responsibilities at work and home may make the going get tough at times and be courageous to speak up should they experience discrimination at work. It is a privilege to build rewarding careers in insurance and a collective responsibility to make our workplaces better for other women who join the workforce after us.

3. What initiatives or strategies can be implemented to increase the representation of women in leadership positions in your industry?

Organizations need to be conscientious about real change to facilitate a gender-equal world of work. An important catalyst for this is the tone from the top and executive advocacy that pushes the agenda to solve core issues, review progress and not rest on past laurels and business results alone. I am proud of the culture activation efforts within Swiss Re that have embedded a diverse culture that lives and breathes inclusion. We undertook a compelling journey to advance the representation of women in our workforce. For the fifth year in a row, Swiss Re has been included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI), in recognition of our commitments and efforts to improving gender equality.

A few specific global initiatives we undertook are highlighted below:

  • Recruitment: Attracting more women into our workforce through consistent, gender-neutral hiring practices and setting equitable hiring targets across all our regions. We have achieved 47% representation of women in our workplace globally by 2023

  • Senior Management Representation: We have increased our representation of women in Senior Management/Executive teams from 24.5% to 31% in 2023.

  • Closing the Gender Pay Gap: Assessing talent inclusively and ensuring equal pay for equal work was our commitment to the Board. We have taken concrete actions to reduce our gender pay gap year on year leading to a 1.4% gender pay gap in 2023.

  • Equalising minimum parental leave: We equalised the minimum parental leave across our global workforce to give employees better opportunities to raise their families and establish a good work-life balance. Primary caregivers receive a minimum of 16 weeks, and secondary caregivers a minimum of 4 weeks of paid leave.

  • Introducing LevelUp: LevelUp is an employee network that supports mentoring and networking opportunities for female staff and is committed to removing gender-related barriers to inclusion, equal opportunities and career advancement.

I am happy to extend a helping hand to others who would like to leverage some of our knowledge and insights on this journey and create joint movement and success!