Sweden: Folksam and the Women Security Programme (1995)

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     This document has been made available in electronic format 
          by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
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                         October 1995


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          Folksam Sweden and the Women's Security Programme
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             Katarina Apelqvist reporting from Stockholm

Throughout the world, women are less financially secure than men,
and subsequently have a lower standard of living, particularly
when they become sick and old. This is also the case in Sweden
despite the fact that 84% of all women between 20 and 65 are
gainfully employed.

In 1985, Folksam, the Swedish co-operative insurance company,
decided to make a conscious effort to focus on women as a direct
target group for insurance sales.

Emphasis was placed on marketing,  channels of distri-bution,
product development and increasing gender awareness within
Folksam.

The results are very encouraging; e.g. the market share of newly
issued individual pension insurance sold to women increased from
14.1% to 25.9% over a five- year period. The corresponding
percentages for men are 12.4% and 17.4%.

In 1989, Folksam introduced a collective pension insurance
product, "Members' Pension", which by its flexible structure and
low cost is of particular interest to women.Women who have never
before considered taking out pension insurance decided to do so.
Today, 118,575 women and 70,037 men have taken out a Members'
Pension policy. The total premium income from women is 333,1
million Swedish crowns and the premium income from men~s policies
is 193,0 million crowns.

What has brought about such results?
A wide range of approaches and activities have been integrated in
order to reach women. Examples of these methods are:

1. For five years Folksam had one woman employee at a managerial
level working full-time with matters concerning Women's Security.
This was a unique post in the Swedish and probably the whole
world's Insurance sector. Today there is a special working party
dealing with this issue.
2. Seminars and lectures are held for women on how to plan and
manage the personal financial situation.
3. Advertising material is produced addressing  needs and
concerns with which women can identify.
4. Participation in trade and idea fairs for women.
5. Setting up of an all-women sales team.
6. New approaches such as home parties and luncheon and evening
arrangements at work-places and community centres.

The results would not have been possible without Folksam's
long-standing dedication to women~s issues in line with the basic
co-operative principles of equality and social responsibility.
Folksam has published books on women~s problems and rights, aimed
at increasing women's knowledge of finances and law, health and
security, and has had a company-wide equality program for many
years.

Knowledge gained about the differences between women's and men's
terms, values and experiences has been invaluable.

In 1992 the Swedish Equal Opportunities Ombudsman and the largest
Swedish business magazine awarded Folksam 1st prize for
furthering equality between women and men in the workplace. It
was stated that Folksam's activities from managerial recruitment
to finding solutions to everyday problems illustrated that
Folksam has been a pioneer in the work for equality between women
and men. Folksam's equality programme comprises affirmative
actions in the sphere of manage-ment, recruitment, wage policy,
training/development and sexual harassment. The goals are
measurable and distinct and there is a deadline  for
implementation.