Jane Tutoki is very aware just how much she stands out among her peers – because her peers are almost exclusively all men.
Tutoki is a rare example of a female CEO in the insurance world. And she’s also very aware of the social responsibility that comes with her gender and her job title.
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“I want to be the role model [other women] need to expand their own career. I feel that weight. I feel that weight and I’m grateful for it,” said Tutoki, the global head of Cunningham Lindsey. And she wants younger women to look at her in her role and be inspired to push for the same result.
Tutoki, 58, is a strong advocate for mentorship and sponsorship – of championing women and minorities in the industry – to give opportunities to demographics that may not ordinarily get a look-in for a high-profile position.
“I see it as an obligation that I have, to help women and minorities in general, within their careers, to self-actualize and get where they want to,” she explained. “But it’s also a joy too, to help people. I have a deep obligation – that’s on my shoulders – to help women in this industry. I know that. I mentor a lot of women and, really, when you bring someone up and promote them in their career, that’s the reality show. That’s where it becomes real. Until that, you’re just talking.”
Having fought for opportunities, and moved 10 times for jobs, to advance her career, she said she still owes a lot to the late James Schiro, former CEO of Zurich
and Pricewaterhouse Coopers and lead director of Goldman Sachs, for her current role.
“I had someone, a very senior person in the industry, who sponsored me for this job, who sought me out and cajoled me almost into this position, and I don’t know if every woman out there has sponsors like that. He put himself on the line, saying she’s the right person. And without him in the picture, I don’t know if I’d be sitting here,” Tutoki said.
“There were no woman to put me up for a CEO job, because there aren’t enough of them out there with the gravitas. I’ve never worked for a woman in my career. It’s my biggest regret. I am a woman leader and manager and CEO but I’ve never worked for a woman because of the way this industry is and the way the workforce is.”
But while mentoring, networking, and sponsorship are important, the greatest frontier for industry equality could well be coming into the fray now, Tutoki said.
Millennials, thought to carry less inherent biases in their worldviews, look at their careers differently than perhaps women have in the past, she said.
“Some of it is generational,” she noted. “Remember, I’m 58 so I’m a tail-end Baby Boomer. We [as women] didn’t usually ask or feel that we were deserving of the promotion or the space we were in. Even when we were in those [management] positions, we were feeling different than men – and I know this from my peers – we always felt insecure, whereas many of our colleagues who were men felt entitled to that position.
“But I think that’s changing. I always talk about how excited I am for the Millennials, the Generation Z or whatever that is coming up, because I don’t think they’re carrying that same baggage that my generation carried, and God bless them, because I think it should be over. I think this game should be over. I think they bring a lot more self-confidence to the table.”
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