Women’s Day that falls on the 08th of March offers an opportunity to celebrate gender empowerment, to reflect on progress made and to call for greater change. Women everywhere want and deserve a future with equal rights and opportunities for all, free from stigma and stereotypes. And, at AIA Insurance, this is a serious mission. Having been recognized as one of the ‘Best Workplaces for Women in Sri Lanka’ (awarded by Great Place to Work®) for three consecutive years (2018, 2019, 2020), AIA is solid in its commitment to gender parity and women’s empowerment.
The recognitions are testament to AIA’s commitment to creating a truly fair and productive workplace for women, while promoting gender parity and a dynamic balanced workforce where female staff play an integral part in business success. AIA recognized early, the trends of diminishing female participation at work and took many strategic steps over the years to ensure that female colleagues have a work environment that provides opportunity and flexibility to arrange work within family circumstances, at times of life where such support is needed most.
AIA’s Director HR Thushari Perera said, “We believe that caring for oneself and one’s family helps us be our best at work. That is why we were the first EFC (Employers' Federation of Ceylon) member to implement a comprehensive maternity benefit scheme for female employees, in the country, with a host of unique benefits that resulted in over 85% of women returning to work after maternity leave.”
She added, “35% of our permanent cadre are women with a 38% share of senior management being female. Increasing the share of Women in Leadership was a key focus for us while ensuring experienced talent is represented at the senior management and board level. So, we identified structural barriers to women’s progression within the company and took proactive measures to mitigate those barriers.”
She further commented, “Insurance sales is a traditionally male-dominated role in Sri Lanka. But we are working to disrupt this norm by actively recruiting women as AIA Wealth Planners and Wealth Planner Managers. Through targeted recruitment campaigns powered by market research, AIA has achieved 25% female representation in its wealth planner cadre; and is looking to increase this. Additionally, 43% of women in the Top 100 High Performing Wealth Planners, bring in over half of new businesses. So, there is no undermining the contribution made by women to our business!”
AIA’s commitment to female empowerment extends beyond its employees to the industry and society at large. AIA’s recent partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is aimed at increasing access to insurance for Sri Lankan women, including female entrepreneurs, while also allowing a better chance of a job in the insurance industry. Under the agreement, IFC is working in partnership with AIA to develop a women's insurance programme strategy and suitable products and targeted programmes for Sri Lankan women. In a country where very few women have insurance, the move will boost women’s access to insurance and help mitigate their risks.
Director & Chief Officer Legal and Operations for AIA, Chathuri Munaweera noted, “A 2015 survey showed Sri Lankan women to be the main influencers and decision makers when it comes to their family's protection and future. They play a critical role in the home- front’s health and financial well-being. Through this programme we are better positioned to reach women through insurance and empower them to protect what is most important to them- their families.”
She added, “The programme will also open up new job opportunities for women in this industry which in turn will enable financial independence and long-term financial security for women.”
Women’s Day is a pertinent reminder of the immense contribution made by women to society and AIA Insurance extends its appreciation to the immeasurable contribution made by its female staff, while pledging solidarity to creating a world without gender-based discrimination.