Mills has more than two decades of insurance industry experience in the sports sector. During that time, the role and profile of women across the sporting sector has grown exponentially.
Thursday night’s television offerings provided a powerful example: two Australian sports teams went head-to-head. The women’s soccer team, the Matildas, was playing Ireland in the World Cup. At the same time, the men’s cricket team was playing England in the fourth test of the hallowed Ashes series. More than twice the number of viewers – almost two million – watched women’s soccer over men’s cricket.
Twenty years ago that would have seemed impossible. Today, at last, professional women are reaching out and flourishing in many walks of life. The insurance business is no exception.
The Women in Insurance Summit Australia is about celebrating this achievement and focusing on what still needs to be done in terms of both gender equity and improving the industry for everybody.
“It captures a lot of what is massively important to us in terms of promoting excellence, growth mindset and opportunity across our team,” said Mills.
Her firm can claim many years of active participation in initiatives that aim to encourage excellence from female employees.
“Some examples of how we highlight and activate initiatives around this include our Women and Allies colleague group, while globally we participate in the Women to Watch list which celebrates the achievements of women colleagues in the industry,” said Mills. “Given how much Marsh values the importance of promoting female leaders within the industry, we are delighted to strongly support the summit as a headline sponsor again this year.”
She said in terms of nurturing talent, leadership and achievement for women, her firm has “walked the walk” for a long time.
“Certainly for as long as I’ve been with the company [nearly 15 years] and even when the industry still tended to be seen as a chiefly male industry,” said Mills. “I’ve always admired the number of opportunities and pathways here for women to be promoted into leadership roles in recognition of their achievements and merit.”
She said this includes board and executive positions. Mills credited Marsh’s flexible and hybrid working arrangement as helping facilitate more opportunities for all staff. She also credited her mentors at the firm with helping her deal positively with important career decisions.
“I’ve had incredible mentors, male and female, throughout the years and to this day within Marsh, we have great role models and leaders within the business,” she said. “Being able to lean on both the female as well as the male perspective has been really important for me, whether it be a career decision, a challenge, or having to decide whether to take on an additional or new role.”
Mills suggested that one important learning from her career so far is the importance of empathy. She said empathy is “incredibly important” in terms of how insurance professionals support and work with clients.
“This is an industry where we don’t trade in products that you can touch; we’re selling trust and integrity,” she said. “It’s also an industry where we interact with clients at a time where things around them go wrong – people’s and businesses’ deepest, darkest moments.”
Mills said this might include a “catastrophic claim” because their building has burnt down, a serious cyber breach, or suffering an “immense loss.” Consequently, she said, customers are often in a vulnerable position.
“So the ability to bring empathy to the table during those times, as well as our services and expertise, is absolutely imperative,” said Mills.
Panel topics at the Women in Insurance Summit include market trends and the future of insurance. The opening keynote address will be served up by Jelena Dokic, former top professional tennis player and now a television commentator, speaker and bestselling author.
The 2023 Women in Insurance Summit will take place at Sydney’s Fullerton Hotel on Aug. 23. The summit will feature a range of powerful keynote sessions, workshops, networking activities, presentations and panel discussions led by influential leaders from the industry on the industry’s top issues. You can register for the summit here.