International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation

Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO, The Co-operators to retire at year end 2016

Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators (Canada), a member of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF), is retiring at the end of 2016, after 14 years in the role.

"I have worked alongside the very best in the insurance industry and cooperative sector," says Kathy. "I am proud of what we have built together and so very fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead an organization that provides valuable financial security to Canadians and their communities."

During Kathy’s tenure, The Co-operators has expanded both through acquisitions and organic growth. The organization is one of Canada's fastest growing insurers and maintains excellent financial strength.

"Under Kathy's guidance, The Co-operators has prospered and is recognized today as a leader in the Canadian insurance industry, as well as the cooperative sector," says John Harvie, Chairperson, Board of Directors, The Co-operators. "Her fundamental belief that the world needs organizations that follow ethical business practices, and incorporate sustainable, responsible decision-making, has had a significant impact on our organization and the communities in which we serve. She has helped to make the world a better place."

Kathy is well recognized as an international leader and a champion for cooperative values-based leadership. She has led a transformation of the organization as it adopted more sustainable business practices, earning recognition from Aon's Best Employers in Canada; Corporate Knights' Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations by Maclean's and Sustainalytics; and in 2013 was ranked #1 on Corporate Knights' list of Most Sustainable Cooperatives in the World. In 2014, Kathy was named one of the Top 25 Women of Influence by Women of Influence Inc.

Kathy has contributed greatly to the governance of ICMIF and to its success globally. Kathy has been a member of the ICMIF Board of Directors since she joined The Co-operators and was Chair of the Federation from 2005 to 2009. She was the first female Chair for ICMIF.

Shaun Tarbuck, CEO, ICMIF, said: “Kathy truly believes in living our cooperative principles in everything she does and inspires those in her organization to do the same.   The work done by Kathy and The Co-operators in the field of sustainability has been nothing less than pioneering; sustainability issues are key to both Kathy and her organization as a whole. Her commitment to the cooperative and mutual insurance sector is almost unrivalled and we will always be tremendously grateful for the energy and dedication she has given to ICMIF, its governance and our membership around the world.  

Kathy recently represented the insurance industry on the advisory committee for the Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System which was established in January 2014 by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The Inquiry was overseen by a sixteen-person advisory council and one of the outcomes was the report The Financial System We Need.

Speaking to ICMIF in 2015 on the Inquiry and report, Kathy says that the need for the report’s recommendations to be taken adequately into account is pressing. “If we continue to do what we are doing, change will occur too slowly,” she says, in relation to the way the international financial system currently functions.

She says that she is pleased to have been able to ensure that the insurance perspective was adequately represented in the workings of the Inquiry and particularly pleased to have been able to speak for the cooperative and mutual insurance sector on the advisory committee. The importance of the long-term approach taken by cooperatives and mutuals and of the community support which can come through their ownership model are both significant factors in helping design a more sustainable global financial system, she says. “Cooperative and mutual insurance has a unique role to play,” she adds.


Read ICMIF’s exclusive interview and CEO profile with Kathy Bardswick in Voice magazine (edition 81). Voice is ICMIF’s magazine, containing stories, news and interviews with senior leaders from the cooperative and mutual insurance sector.

Read ICMIF’s article on the report The Financial System We Need in Voice magazine (edition 84) here.

The report The Financial System We Need is available in major world languages and can be downloaded at

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