In an ever-changing workplace, the insurance industry in Canada has made great strides to see increased diversity and inclusion. The past decade has seen a number of female leaders take the helm at some of Canada’s top insurance firms - a few current examples being Lynn Oldfield, president and CEO at AIG Canada, and Heather Masterson, president and CEO at Travelers Canada.
At one point in the past decade, there were female chief executives at five of the top 10 insurance brands in Canada, shining the spotlight on Canadian insurers as a progressive bunch – but the industry cannot stop there. It’s time to build on that progress and pump that same energy and enthusiasm into the entire female talent pipeline, according to Denise Yeng, sales and distribution manager (national) at Cansure.
Yeng, who will be speaking at Insurance Business Canada’s upcoming Women in Insurance Toronto conference, said it’s almost as if “there’s a perceived expectation that the industry must have so many female leaders,” and once that quota is reached, nothing more needs to be done.
“That’s where the glass ceiling exists,” she said. “That’s where we need to push harder.”
While Canadian insurance firms have exceeded other countries in terms of appointing female chief executives, there remains a shortage of women in upper middle management positions. Companies can start to turn this trend around by offering mentorship opportunities for all employees and creating a “collaborative and inclusive” workplace culture, according to Yeng.
Breaking the glass ceiling seems to have come naturally to Yeng. With 13 years of experience working for various insurance suppliers, she has developed a broad skillset while being involved with the marketing and business development activities of insurers that range in size from a regional footprint, to companies with a global presence. At present, Yeng is the sales and distribution manager for Cansure’s national operations, where she leads the development and implementation of the firm’s go-to-market distribution strategy.
As part of Cansure’s senior leadership team, Yeng is also involved in the development of various initiatives that support employee engagement, including a new diversity and inclusion group, which she developed and introduced this year. She will be talking about how to create an inclusive workplace culture and how to build effective strategies to attract, engage and retain talent in the industry during the ‘New Opportunities’ panel discussion at Women in Insurance Toronto.
“I have been lucky to work with some really strong female leaders throughout my career, who have mentored me and pushed me to strive for the next level,” said Yeng. “If I can get one message across at Women in Insurance Toronto, I would like it to be: if you want to be on the leadership path and you want to have that opportunity to manage and lead others … it’s absolutely possible if you put your mind to it.”