Construction has, for many years, been a male-dominated sector - but one company is working hard to change that.
Access Restoration Services (ARS), a Canadian build and restoration company specializing in emergency response for damage stemming from natural disasters, has announced its sponsorship of the Women in Insurance event taking place today in Toronto. However, its executives are also doing a lot in-house to encourage the advancement of women in the insurance space.
“We have a lot of women that work within our office and we’re trying to show that we’re promoting the Women in Insurance event,” said Joseph Gagliano, president of ARS. “By promoting that, we’re also showing our own employees that we believe in what we preach throughout the office – that when women succeed, we all succeed. That’s our motto here.”
Other initiatives the restoration company has implemented under its roof include taking tangible steps to create a safe working environment for women through programs that teach all employees what that kind of environment looks like. Supporting female employees as they ascend the career ladder is another effort that ARS has made, by building a talent pool to move women into executive positions. Skills development courses are also offered to all employees to ensure they’re continuing to build on an education that will help them move forward.
And that’s not all the company is doing in this field. While there’s many women working in insurance, a significant number occupy administrative positions. ARS has a specific way to address that issue.
“In the construction business, women are generally designated within the office and not in the field,” explained Gagliano. “We mandate a program where we actually ask the PCs and our field people to bring out their assistants so they can actually see the environments, see what’s in the fieldwork.”
If the assistants like the work, there’s a program that helps them transition to the PC group, where there’s more money to be made and economic agency to be gained.
Restoration is a worthwhile sector for anyone with an interest in insurance to consider. ARS itself has grown exponentially, Gagliano tells Insurance Business, with a staff of 200 that keeps on adding new employees. Its geographic reach is also expanding – a few years ago, ARS ventured outside of Ontario to provide its services after the Fort McMurray wildfires.
“Since then, we haven’t left. We’re now in Alberta and we’re still in the city of Fort McMurray,” said Gagliano. “And then with all the natural disasters, we were actually called by the insurers to go down to Florida as well, and into Texas.” In fact, ARS has travelled as far south as Aruba to help clients rebuild after the hurricanes.
As natural disasters become more intense and frequent, the demand for restoration work is only going to go up. After the recent ice storm that hit Ontario, the company’s professionals were on the ground, unplugging drains that were clogged by ice and then hit with intense rain, which caused interior water damage to a lot of commercial buildings. Putting in drying equipment so mould wouldn’t form and repairing that water damage was also on ARS’s to-do list.
The prognosis for future weather catastrophes isn’t optimistic, based on the intensity of those seen just in the past year. More people are affected now, too, with the recent wind storm impacting a third of Ontario, which is rare because of the province’s sheer size.
“The weather event itself is much stronger than we’ve ever seen in the past,” said Gagliano. “We had ice storms – never as heavy and dense as the one we just had – and then the rains we’re getting are heavier and there’s more wind with them.”