The chief executive of one of York’s largest employers has received a top honour in the New Year’s Honours list just weeks after she earned national attention over her employment policies.

Amanda Blanc, the first woman chief executive at Aviva, which employs around 2,000 staff in the city, was awarded a Damehood for services to business, gender equality and net zero.

An official government citation also noted Ms Blanc has steered the company though ‘difficult years’ with the share price increasing by 60 per cent since she took over in 2020.

Ms Blanc had also delivered “returns of more than £5billion for shareholders” through cost savings and simplifying the business since arriving at the insurer, the citation said.


Last month, Ms Blanc told a parliamentary inquiry that there was “no non-diverse hire at Aviva without it being signed off by me and the chief people officer”.

She said: “Not because I don’t trust my team but [because] I want to make sure that the process followed for that recruitment has been diverse, has been properly done and is not just a phone call to a mate saying, ‘would you like a job, pop up and we’ll fix it up for you’.”

Ms Blanc told MPs at the December hearing that harassment in financial services is worse than in any other industry. The hearing was part of a review into whether sexism in the City had improved since a previous review on the matter in 2018.

National media also reported the 56-year-old has faced sexism in the industry, including at Aviva’s AGM last year, receiving comments including she was “not the man for the job” from an investor.

Asked about Aviva recruitment in York, including how many such sign-offs have been made for local appointments, and at what level of seniority, an Aviva spokesperson told The Press: “Aviva will always hire the best person for any job and we want to make sure Aviva has a diverse workforce that reflects the customers we serve.”

Ms Blanc’s Damehood follows her receiving the Industry Achiever Award at the Insurance Times Awards last month, praising her for steering Aviva “to success” and for speaking out on issues “to great effect”.