Everyone knows that in the insurance industry, we haven’t reached equality when it comes to gender. The statistics show that only one in five executives or board members in the industry are women, and the pay gap between the genders currently sits at 23.2%.
This is why events like Women In Insurance UK have been created, to allow the industry to come together and hear from some of the women who have made it to the top, about what they think works and how we can improve.
One of the speakers at the event, Louise Flood (pictured), risk practices consultant and vice president at Lockton, is extremely passionate about the issue of gender diversity, sitting on her company’s “Women in Lockton” committee.
However, Flood strongly believes that to ensure progress for women, any event that is about gender diversity needs to involve men as well. Her views are based on her experiences on the Lockton women’s committee, which does quite a lot of work both internally and externally for the organisation.
“We’re responsible for holding the company accountable for maintaining a gender diverse workforce,” Flood explained. “It consists of me and three female partners in the business, and we’ve recently recruited two males to the committee as well.
“We meet on a bi-weekly basis and we manage initiatives there such as mentoring and training. We also monitor internal stats over time to identify trends and see where we can get better as a business. Sometimes it might just be a simple networking event – with clients or insurer partners.”
Flood is quick to point out that while the events are always focused on women, men are also invited.
“And these networking events are a great opportunity to have a female focused approach to it,” she said. “Often our events aren’t exclusively female - we do invite males to our events too - but they’re usually sponsored by Women in Lockton and we encourage a lot of females to go. It’s just a unique network opportunity that a lot of them don’t usually get.”
She said that by ensuring everyone is invited, regardless of gender, it makes it inclusive and creates a great atmosphere within the company.
“We try and make our events as inclusive as possible because we found that if you have women only events and exclude men, it’s just not fair and it creates a bigger divide than was there in the first place,” Flood explained.
“We’re finding that gets a really good reception. There aren’t loads of men who attend, but we had a big International Women’s Day event and probably 30-40% were male attendees, which was really nice to see.”
It also means that, in the long run, the men who attend the events can have a better understanding of the bigger gender issues in the industry, which can help create change.
“If everyone can just understand where everyone is coming from,” Flood said. “Those men who attend those events, if they’re managers and they’re managing females then they can maybe understand some of the issues. You shouldn’t ever exclude them from the conversation.”
One other important aspect of Flood’s role is helping with mentoring programs. So, what advice would she give to younger women entering the insurance industry?
“One important piece of advice I would give them would be to ensure those first two years that they have in the insurance industry are as diverse as possible,” she said. “That they’re meeting as many people as possible and they’re gaining experience across different areas of the business. I think getting a really diverse experience and network is really important.
“The second piece of advice is you just have to work incredibly hard. It isn’t ever going to get handed to you. It will involve a large amount of commitment and focus and professionalism.”