As if building awareness around legal expense insurance (LEI) wasn’t enough to keep Jo-Anne MacDonald (pictured), CEO at ARAG, and her team busy, the insurance executive is also taking part in the ongoing discussion around diversity and inclusion in the industry. With only 4.8% of women holding CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, according to research from global non-profit Catalyst, there’s still more work to be done in this arena, though MacDonald has already seen the face of insurance change significantly over the course of her career.
“My generation is the first one to have long-term, multifaceted careers,” said MacDonald, pointing to the many women from her mother’s demographic who would leave the jobs traditionally assigned to their gender after having children. Meanwhile, “This generation has changed things, and we’ve disrupted all industries. The next generation will have more support to juggle having children and being pregnant, and all the things women do [while juggling] a full-time career. I think it’s a fascinating time to be a woman in any industry, and I think if you’re looking to get into leadership roles, then the sky is the limit at this point in time.”
With that progress in mind, the ARAG CEO is taking part in the upcoming Women in Insurance conference in Toronto after attending last year’s event as an audience member and being impressed with the discussions as well as the attendees.
“I was quite fascinated at the general age group of the women that were in the audience. They were younger insurance professionals, which [shows that] the face of insurance is starting to change,” she told Insurance Business. This year, MacDonald will be moderating a panel on the imposter syndrome and the value of mentorship.
Growing up on the east coast of Canada, these kinds of speaking engagements simply weren’t available.
“When I was growing up in my career, I didn’t have those opportunities, like people do here in Ontario. We just didn’t have the base of population to have these sorts of speaking opportunities,” said MacDonald. “You were figuring it out yourself, and I think it’s amazing that young women in any industry, including insurance, have these opportunities here in Toronto to have such fabulous events that they can participate in and learn from.”
Getting out in front of insurance professionals is likewise important for spreading the message about legal expense insurance, around which awareness in the Canadian marketplace is picking up. For the coming year and beyond, the team at ARAG will stay focused on bringing the insurance industry and consumers up to speed on LEI.
“Our awareness campaign will continue, and we’re continuing to up the ante,” said MacDonald. “We feel that having other audiences that are not necessarily brokers, for example, absolutely helps us wage this war on the lack of awareness around this product so that consumers can start to talk about it, and start to bring it up in conversation with their brokers.”
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