I’m proud to be a woman associated with the insurance industry. Throughout my (almost) five years with Insurance Business, I have witnessed significant progress in the industry around all topics associated with ‘women in insurance’ and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).
At Insurance Business, we host a Women in Insurance Global Network, which is an inclusive network of female insurance professionals and their male allies from across the world. As part of this initiative, we run a Women in Insurance conference series every year in Sydney, Auckland, London, Toronto, New York, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Boston, focused on leadership development at all career levels and topics that will bring the discussion from conversation into action.
I mention Insurance Business’s Women in Insurance conference series because the events have evolved as the industry has progressed. I remember interviewing conference panellists four-years-ago and asking the question: How do we increase awareness about the gender inequities in the insurance industry? Then, maybe two-years-ago, that question had changed to: How do we turn awareness about gender inequality into action?
And now, in 2022, when it seems that companies acknowledge the importance of DE&I, and many have strategies in place to incorporate DE&I into the workplace, now my questions are: Are these DE&I strategies working? Are they demonstrating positive results? Are they fit for purpose in a post-pandemic, hybrid working environment? Will they help the industry to attract and retain the talent that it so desperately needs?
As a woman covering news, commentating on, and advocating for the insurance industry worldwide, it’s been exciting to experience that progression first-hand – even if I’m not technically an insurance professional.
The atmosphere at our Women in Insurance events is electric. It is inspiring for me, as a young woman with big dreams, to listen to so many fantastic leaders in the industry, and to hear their stories about how they juggle their work and home lives, and how they’ve beaten any historical biases to show that insurance is, in fact, a great industry for women.
As some readers may know, I’m based in Toronto, Canada – and here, we’re very fortunate to boast that several of Canada’s leading property and casualty (P&C) insurers currently have female CEOs, or immediate past CEOs. This is something to celebrate because it paves the way for other women to strive for leadership positions. These women, all of whom are active participants in industry associations and events, are proof that female leadership in insurance is attainable, and ultimately, successful.
Now, I was very fortunate to have an upbringing where I was taught that anything is possible. I also have two older brothers, close to my age, who I thoroughly enjoyed competing with as we were growing up. When I first started writing about women in insurance, I didn’t fully understand why it was a topic. I thought: What could possibly be holding women back in the insurance industry? But then I started gained a better understanding of unconscious bias and the long-standing corporate structures that have hindered even the most ambitious women.
It is with that understanding that I now applaud all of the trailblazing women who are pushing boundaries and breaking glass ceilings in the insurance industry, and the supportive mentors and sponsors (both male and female) who are enabling them to do so.
I recently interviewed a top female executive at a global insurance company, who made an interesting comment about women in insurance. To paraphrase, she said she wants the industry to get to a point where ‘women in insurance’ is no longer a topic of discussion because true equality has been reached.
I know what she means. I wish I didn’t have to ask the questions: How do we turn awareness into action? Are we doing enough? But, with the progress that the industry has made in my short time at Insurance Business, I’m confident that one day gender inequality will be a topic of the past.
Find out more about Insurance Business’s Women in Insurance Global Network and upcoming events by clicking here.