INSURANCE giant Zurich – which employs hundreds of people in Hampshire – is launching a programme to tackle pay inequality and career barriers for staff from ethnic minorities.

Zurich has revealed a 9.8 per cent pay gap between staff who declared they came from an ethnic minority and those who said they did not.

It is one of only 16 companies to publish the data and the first insurer to do so.

Although the gap for mean hourly pay has narrowed by two per cent since 2019, the gap in bonus pay for ethnic minority employees rose by 7.8 per cent to 24.5 per cent. Zurich said this was driven by a small number of changes in senior roles and new appointments made in the middle of the year.

Zurich, which has 600 staff based at Whiteley, supports calls by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for compulsory reporting on ethnic minority pay, recruitment, retention and promotion.

Seven per cent of its UK employees declare themselves as belonging to an ethnic minority, although only 86 per cent self-declare their ethnicity.

Zurich UK’s chief executive, Tulsi Naidu, said: “We have led the way with various campaigns to create a more inclusive work environment taking a number of progressive measures within our business and leading on initiatives such as the Inclusive Behaviours in Insurance pledge signed by over 130 major players in the industry.

“We are listening to our employees from diverse and ethnic minority backgrounds, and their experiences will help inform any action we take.

“Our data shows that we have more work to do to appoint more diverse candidates to our business and to better support them in their careers. We are committed to doing everything we can to understand how we can progress meaningful change, which is why we fully support the mandatory reporting of this data in the same way as we do for gender. Organisations now need practical guidance and a clear framework on how best to do this to tackle race inequality in the workplace – and we look forward to support from the government and EHRC to help us deliver.”

Half of Zurich’s UK executive team is involved in the insurance industry’s Cultural Awareness Network mentoring programme . They also take part in an internal “reverse mentoring” programme to understand barriers to career progression.

The insurer is working with the Behavioural Insights Team – often called the “Nudge Unit” – on a plan to address the issues.

Last year, Zurich took similar steps to tackle gender pay. It offered all jobs on a part-time, job share or flexible working basis and says this has led to more women in senior roles.