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IWD: #InspireInclusion with Pravina Ladva, Group Chief Digital and Technology Officer at Swiss Re

  • Publish Date: Posted about 2 months ago
  • Author:by Annie Palmer

​​​This International Women's Day, I interviewed Pravina Ladva, Group Chief Digital and Technology Officer 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. What does inclusion mean to you, and why?

Inclusion means that your input is valued – it's not just being part of a team. I often say it's like being at a dinner party: it's nice being invited, but what good is it if no-one speaks to you? So, while diversity is critical to our business, we can only benefit from a diverse team if we're inclusive in the first place. At the end of the day, it's our teams' varied perspectives that help us understand our clients' needs and develop appropriate business solutions.

2. What are some actions Swiss Re has taken to commit to inclusion in the workplace?

We're embedding some key initiatives across the company, with clear actions and accountability. For example, last year we introduced an Inclusion Experience Journey. It equips line managers with tools to be inclusive, helping ensure every employee feels valued and respected. As we continue to build a diverse workforce, our recruitment practices ensure diverse candidate slates and diverse selection panels.

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

The underrepresentation of women in senior leadership positions is a real challenge. When we think about the various reasons for this, we know that balancing career aspirations with personal and family life remains a challenge for colleagues, particularly female executives. So, at Swiss Re, we support flexible work arrangements and encourage family-friendly policies. One example is our Global Standard of Parental Leave, which gives employees better opportunities to raise their families and manage their work-life balance. And in Zurich we have a facility called Kids House to support working partners.

We also see great progress from more local initiatives. For example, following the first cohort of our women's leadership programme in India, AccelHERate, over 40% of participants have developed in their careers, and 15% have become new line managers.

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

I've always been passionate about creating diverse teams because I've seen the results they can achieve. IWD is great because it shines a light on both the progress made in gender equality and the work still to be done. In my role at Swiss Re, I also see it as an opportunity to inspire future generations, showing them that there are exciting roles in STEM professions.

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

I encourage females to take the opportunities that come their way. You might question whether you have all the skills on paper, but take the chance and learn on the job. Also, ask for feedback on specific skills you're aiming to improve. And take your seat at the table – claim your space and speak up. I also highly recommend getting support, such as mentoring. If you're facing a challenge, it's likely others have experienced something similar and can offer valuable suggestions.

6. What does being an effective ally for women look like to you?

Being an ally has many parallels with mentoring. It is about empowering, encouraging, and creating real impact. Swiss Re's PowHer mentorship programme provides a platform to advise on challenges or act as a sounding board. It's also really valuable for our mentors to get insights on how we can improve and become more inclusive as an organisation. It's a win-win! There are also some great local initiatives in this regard – in Spain, we support the mentorship of females in engineering roles as part of the Royal Academy of Engineers.