Posted on 11/08/2016 by Marie Swarbreck
Meet panelist #3
Marc Scheidegger, Chief Claims Officer, Zurich Insurance and Edge Cert. Representative
Question 1: Can you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences?
- Swiss living in Hong Kong since April 2015.
- 21 years of experience in the insurance field and now serving as Chief Claims Officer in Hong Kong. Prior to that, worked as Chief Claims Officer in Zurich for the Nordic countries and before that had local, regional and global roles out of Switzerland.
- Interests – Love to move and always on the run. Play badminton, tennis and Thai boxing. I love to be outdoors and be surrounded by people with positive energy and drive. At the same time, love to read a book on a silent beach or park. I am a curious person always tries to learn new things.
Question 2: Why is Gender Equity important?
Let me start by saying something rather provocative: “Gender should not really play a role – it is personality and skills that matter”. At least for a company the question should not be gender but skill when people get hired into organizations. Furthermore, a more diverse pool of skills ultimately leads in my own personal view to better decisions and smarter outcomes. Societies have changed but not at the same pace around the world. Having spent a couple of years in Sweden, where equality is so baked into the culture, you almost tend to forget that we have not come that far in other societies. Sweden has achieved that irrespective of Gender, women and men have the same opportunities with equal pay. As an example, women (or men) can stay away for maternity and paternity leave up to two years from work and will have their prior jobs guaranteed. This puts pressure on companies to factor such leaves into staffing models. It also proves that a sound infrastructure and a state that supports this model creates prosperity as the cost of having well educated women staying home is higher than the investment in day care and strains on staffing models. I have seen many very skilled women in Switzerland that struggled finding their ways back into their careers and once successfully got themselves back into a part of full time job the society and people around them would call them “bad mums” when leaving their kid to day care. It does therefore not only take companies and country systems to cater for that but also a highly supportive society and network of supportive people around you.
Question 3: What is your opinion on gender equity in HK?
I am actually pleasantly surprised about how many women in my team are highly qualified and have senior roles. My leadership team is 50:50 female/male but again I made these decisions not solely based on gender but on skill and diversity. And back to my example on reintegration after maternity or paternity leave I am also amazed about how many women have found their way back into work life. Looking behind this obvious perfection, I realize that neither the system around them nor the infrastructure is supportive. When I talk to dads and mums they usually explain to me that it is costly and stressful to have kids in HK. It takes a lot of planning and that inflexible company work hours sometimes make it even worse. In absence of affordable day care for all, there is a heavy reliance on family and friends. And on top of that and having come from an environment with up to two years maternity or paternity leave I am of the opinion that HK has to do much more on that front.
Question 4: How is your company engaged in gender equality and what are you currently doing to improve the status quo?
With about 55,000 employees serving customers in more than 170 countries, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is part of who we are and how we operate. Our objectives are:
- To embed diversity and inclusion as essential components of the way we do business;
- To foster a culture that values the diversity of our people, and empowers them to reach their full potential;
- To enhance the diversity of talent in our Senior Leadership, and the future pipeline; and
- To advance our reputation as a responsible and forward-thinking company.
We have an action framework to embed workplace practices to drive a culture of inclusion, collaboration and creativity. We try our best in different programs to empower female talents in Zurich. They are:
- FlexWork@Zurich - being able to work from home, better working hours and honoring part-time jobs to permanent staff, such as new mothers.
- Proactively managing pay equality - the initiative of pay equality is driven by the Group’s Diversity and Inclusion team.
- EDGE Certification - the first company in Hong Kong to receive, as the commitment towards being an employer of choice for women within the insurance industry.
- Global ‘10/20/35’ vision – we have a goal to achieve 35 percent female representation in the top 10 percent of Zurich’s leadership by 2020.
- We held our first APAC D&I conference in Hong Kong in April 2016. It is well received by our key business partners and senior management. Each of our executives made a pledge on what they planned to do in pursuing diversity and inclusion.
- Employee Resource Groups (namely Women’s Innovation Network) – various events organized to assist our women employee to progress in their career via networking with senior leaders.
Question 5: What are you doing to inspire women in leadership?
Leadership is not a question of gender but a question of personality, values and empathy. I want leaders that can inspire others. I want leaders that can build networks and teams around them to achieve great things. I want leaders who walk the talk. These characteristics are neither male nor female – they are human. Of course this all sounds too perfect and people are driven by stereotypes and preconceptions. But it starts with your own awareness around your blind spots and your openness to diversity and inclusion.
My aim is inspire not only by bold words but by action and walking the talk. Words can mean nothing if you do not follow through. For instance, I am one of a group of male WIN network ambassadors in Hong Kong to promote and support the work of WIN. I have also taken on two mentorships of female future leader talents. Gender should not determine your career – on the contrary – it should play a role to build diverse and inclusive teams to deliver smarter, better and more innovative outcomes.
To learn more about the different programs to empower female talents at Zurich Insurance as well as hear more from Marc on how he supports his team, and aims to further diversity and empower female talent at Zurich, book your ticket now. Seats are limited.
For tickets, click here.