The Canadian insurance industry has come a long way in its approach to diversity and inclusion (D&I). It was one of the earliest proponents within the financial services industry to promote D&I initiatives, and it has been a front-runner in the advancement and prioritization of women’s issues. But achieving equity and D&I in the workplace is an ongoing journey; it’s something that must be worked on and adapted constantly to match evolution in the modern workforce.
One tried and tested mechanism for boosting D&I in the workplace is to “create key metrics” around talent and D&I, and to “ensure those metrics are implemented into overall organizational objectives,” according to Vinita Jajware (pictured), president of the Toronto Insurance Women’s Association (TIWA), and speaker on the Women and Diversity in Insurance panel at tomorrow’s virtual IB Insurance Connect event. You can still sign up for the free, live virtual event by clicking here.
“Talent and diversity should be treated on equal footing with strategic planning and revenue objectives to ensure key milestones are being achieved,” Jajware told Insurance Business. “Enabling employee resource groups (ERGs) to act with the authority to affect positive change for the groups which they may represent, while concurrently having the executive sponsorship to see these activities through to fruition, is paramount to enable D&I in the workplace.”
Also at IB Insurance Connect: Pandemic sparks surge in awareness of cyber risk in Canada
The TIWA, as a founding member of the Canadian Association of Insurance Women, has a broad purpose of promoting networking, professional development, and personal growth for women within the industry. Jajware, a passionate leader driving these initiatives, is excited about the industry’s success.
“In recent years, through the advancement and prioritization of women’s issues at the forefront of the equity, diversity, and inclusion dialogue, the insurance industry has been steadfast in their response and proliferation of these insights into action,” she said. “This should only add credence to the wonderful work the Canadian insurance industry has been executing in order to build a more cohesive and collaborative landscape for all persons to truly belong and flourish in their work.”
But, as always, there is room for improvement. One issue that tends to arise time and time again during women in insurance discussions is the fact that lots of women reach middle management positions, but far fewer progress further toward c-suite and executive roles. This roadblock is built up by a “multitude of factors,” according to Jajware.
“These factors include self-selection to opt out of these paths as, generally speaking, women within their child-bearing years often deliberately chose to alter their career progression and path accordingly,” she said. “Additionally, whether a known or prevalent phenomena to executive recruitment teams, the very notion of unconscious bias, which may be present, may also be a factor which contributes toward women’s advancement into senior leadership and c-suite roles.”
More from IB Insurance Connect: Growing Canada’s legal cannabis industry from flower to bud
But there are ways to break down these barriers, or “shatter the glass ceiling,” as the phrase goes. For example, companies can use mentorship and executive sponsorship as resources and tools to help women spot and then work towards positions of seniority in the professional pathway.
“Mentorship and sponsorship, while wholeheartedly different in their execution, are both essential for organizations who wish to adopt a deep systemic solution to their equity, diversity, and inclusion needs,” Jajware commented. “Mentorship and sponsorship both act as a catalyst for future succession planning, and organizations which are operating within these parameters will be best served for future success.”
Learn more about how to enhance D&I in the workplace by attending IB Insurance Connect on Thursday, July 16, between 1pm and 5.30pm EST. This free, virtual event will also cover: how to supercharge your business, growth opportunities in personal lines, cyber insurance, cannabis insurance, opportunities with the Lloyd’s market, emerging trends in risk management, and digital marketing. To register, click here.