“The problem’s not you.”
That is the message Momentum Broker Solutions operations director Hazel Westwood wants to send to women in the insurance industry on International Women’s Day 2023.
Speaking with Momentum Broker Solutions business development director and Momentum Moments podcast host Alistair Body during a special episode on Wednesday, Westwood pointed to how women are being offered tools that, in her view, suggest that the issue is with the women themselves.
“If I’m not confident to speak up in a meeting, [a training on that suggests that] that’s an issue with my confidence – not an issue with the meeting, the people in the meeting, or the environment that I’m sitting within,” she asserted. “[It’s saying] I need to fix me to be able to do that.”
For Westwood, a founding partner of Momentum Broker Solutions, the sector should be looking the other way around.
“I think, as an industry, we need to wake up and realise that a lot of the power to do something about this – to improve the number of women that are not just in the industry but in senior positions in the industry – doesn’t lie in the hands of women; it lies in the hands of men,” she told Body.
“Don’t send me on a training course telling me how I should be speaking up in meetings,” she added. “Send male leaders, senior members of the business, on courses to learn about unconscious bias, what they can do to champion women, to help women, to support them. Because, as much as those words hurt to say, women in the workplace need those champions, and it needs to be conscious.”
Westwood, who believes businesses with a diverse workforce are more successful, said “therein (above) lies the challenge” for the insurance industry.
The latest episode of the Momentum Moments podcast can be accessed here.