Women in leadership

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” said Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), reflecting upon the topic of representation and role models. Representation is evidence of the equality of opportunities and an outcome of a strong belief in diversity and inclusion. Diversity, equal opportunities, and inclusion shouldn’t merely be words on a page, but drivers that help create a more balanced society capable of developing new values that lead to progress. In the financial results announcement published in November 2021, Allianz’s CEO Oliver Bäte declared that the company had just completed its best third-quarter ever, with strong performance across all of its business segments. Three weeks later, at the Capital Markets Day, he explained that 30 percent of Allianz Group operating profit is now managed by women, making it clear that diversity and performance go hand in hand. 

That Allianz has prioritized diverse representation is evident in its ongoing leadership appointments. Over the course of 2021, six women were appointed to the CEO positions of various Allianz businesses. We asked four of these newly appointed CEOs to reflect on what it means to them and on why this is important to Allianz. In their responses, it is clear that they understand diversity, including driving gender balance, to be a competitive factor for Allianz and view it through the lens of performance that will lead to better outcomes. It is the collision of diverse views – to paraphrase Clarisse Kopff, CEO and Chairperson of Euler Hermes – that makes a company better. And from this collision, customers, shareholders, employees and applicants will benefit.

The executives are presented alphabetically by last name:

- Jasmine Jirele, CEO, Allianz Life (USA)

- Clarisse Kopff, CEO & Chairperson, Euler Hermes

- Paola Pietrafesa, Deputy Managing Director,  Allianz S.p.A.  ; CEO, Allianz Bank Financial Advisors (Italy)1

- Anusha Thavarajah, Regional CEO, Allianz Asia Pacific

- Delphine Troare, Regional CEO, Allianz Africa

- Katja de la Viña, CEO, Allianz Leben (Germany)2

 

1appointed Deputy Managing Director in 2021; CEO since 2018.
2appointed in 2021; will assume role in April 2022.

- Jasmine Jirele, CEO Allianz Life
Jasmine Jirele
 “I think the fact that 30 percent of Allianz Group’s operating profit is managed by women is great progress, not only for the women who hold these roles, but also for the women in the organization who aspire to reach higher in their own careers. I am proud of the Group’s long-standing commitment to gender diversity, and an increase in women CEOs in recent years demonstrates that commitment.”
“Research shows that diverse leadership teams lead to more successful companies with higher profits, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. Having a specific target to make our leadership teams more diverse on all dimensions – including gender – holds us accountable for continuous improvement. As we improve diversity within our leadership teams, we will protect and grow shareholder value, and continue to position Allianz Group as a leader in our industry.”
Clarisse Kopff
“It takes two things to expand women’s access to leadership positions : a top management that fosters a meritocratic culture in which performance is rewarded regardless of gender; and a pool of candidates who have been given the opportunities to build the experience needed for the top jobs. Sounds obvious, but this isn’t, and the 30 percent are the result of Allianz’s unique corporate culture based on performance and a very effective grooming and development model, where people can build enough self-confidence to dare to take the next step. And this is done in a very conscious and structured way of talent and performance management.”
“Diverse profiles, different backgrounds and broader perspectives are important to make good, more comprehensively considered decisions, which leads to better and more sustainable performance. It is the mere confrontation of diverse views which makes a company better. And then of course having more and more women leaders is important as a signal that, yes, Allianz is a company that has the structures in place to give its top performers, regardless of gender, the opportunity to pursue leadership positions.”
Anusha Thavarajah
“This fact highlights that we have been progressive in the transformation and re-evaluation of women’s roles at the workplace. Allianz has long recognized the great work done by many women, many of whom will excel if they are empowered and given the opportunity to do so. More still needs to be done before we reach true parity, and it cannot be achieved overnight, but I am immensely proud of Oliver [editor: Oliver Bäte, Allianz CEO] and Allianz’s vision in ensuring that equal opportunities are afforded to all in the workplace, regardless of gender. We are moving forward in the right direction.“
“As Chief Executive of one of the core growth regions for Allianz, it is important that my team leads by example and demonstrates that women can play an integral role in driving innovation, work with customer-centricity and grow our business. At Allianz, we will always celebrate the successes of our people and help them to overcome their personal and professional challenges, starting by guiding those that are deserving, into senior leadership roles.”
Katja de la Viña was appointed CEO of Allianz Leben in 2021 and will assume the role in April 2022
“In short: an important step towards more diversity and future viability. For years, Allianz has been committed to attracting more women for leadership positions. This result shows that our efforts are paying off and that we are really making a difference.”
“Diverse teams are generally more agile and successful than homogeneous teams. That is my firm conviction. Thus, if we encourage people with a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, experiences and beliefs to get involved as professionals and leaders, we will be better able to realize our employees' skills and potential – for the benefit of our customers, Allianz and society as a whole. In short, for the benefit of all of us.”
While it is impossible to ascribe the performance of any individual to a particular attribute such as gender, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age or sexual orientation, it has been widely accepted that diversity in all its forms leads to better outcomes. A report published by McKinsey in May 2020 stated “…I&D [editor: Inclusion & Diversity] is a powerful enabler of business performance,” one made even more relevant by the pandemic. Those companies that embrace it, the report went on, are likely to emerge from the crisis stronger, while those who deprioritize it risk tarnishing their license to operate and losing out on opportunities.
- Clarisse Kopff, CEO & Chairperson, Euler Hermes
At Allianz, driving gender balance is an important component of its diversity and inclusion strategy, and one of the key performance indicators is in fact the representation of women in senior leadership. On this aspect, Allianz has made great strides. At the beginning of Oliver Bäte’s tenure as CEO in 2015, for example, there were no women CEOs in the Allianz Group, and only one female board member. Today, 30 percent of Allianz Group’s operating profit is managed by women – and there are three women on the board of Allianz SE.

Today, Allianz is reaping the fruits of the many actions that have been put in place in recent years. Now, there are solid and diverse executive succession plans, a sponsorship program for women, equal pay certification, and various employee networks, including networks that focus on gender inclusion.

“We have established a global talent management approach designed to develop a deep and diverse talent bench across the company who are readily able to step into new roles,” says Angelika Inglsperger, Group Head of People Product House, which oversees talent management.

And Allianz will continue to stretch to ensure we accelerate progress. The Allianz SE Board of Management has set defined targets through 2024 on all diversity dimensions.

Allianz’s efforts to foster diversity and inclusion have also been validated with external recognition, among others the Refinitiv Diversity & Inclusion Index 2021 (#5), German Diversity Index 2021 (#2), and Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, on which Allianz was included for the seventh consecutive year in 2022. (Click here  to visit Allianz’s Awards & Indices page.)

Allianz's Diversity & Inclusion targets and ambitions for 2024

Click on image to enlarge. 
Click on image to enlarge. 

The Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with more than 126 million* private and corporate customers in more than 70 countries. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insurance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing around 706 billion euros** on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore, our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage nearly 1.7 trillion euros** of third-party assets. Thanks to the systematic integration of environmental, social and governance criteria in our operations, business processes and investment decisions, we continue to be recognized as among the sustainable insurers in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (September 23, 2022). In 2021, over 155,000 employees achieved total revenues of 148.5 billion euros and an operating profit of 13.4 billion euros for the group.

These assessments are, as always, subject to the disclaimer provided below.

*Including non-consolidated entities with Allianz customers.
** As of September 30, 2022

Press contacts

Gesa Walter
Allianz SE
As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements:

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