While strides have been made in recent years, the insurance industry is still facing a pretty significant gender divide.
Just 1% of insurance firms have a female CEO, and only 12% of women in the industry are in top management positions, according to a Credit Suisse report.
Lloyd’s – on top of being one of the world’s foremost insurance brands – is helping to lead the way when it comes to diversity and inclusion, not least because it’s one of the rare firms with a female CEO at the helm.
The company’s work in the D&I space, which includes the global Dive-In festival, is driven by a commitment to diversity that trickles from the top-down, Enya He, regional director for south central U.S region at Lloyd’s, told Insurance Business.
“Today, what I see is so much more awareness of inclusion and diversity,” she explained, pointing to the number of female executives in Beale’s team as a great example of gender diversity at the top.
“Lloyds has the strongest brand, without a doubt, the brand always matters, but it’s the people who make a difference,” she said.
He, who has a Bachelors, Masters and PHD in insurance, spent almost 10 years teaching insurance at college level before she went into the industry itself, and has seen a great deal of change in attitudes during that time.
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Among the younger generation, many more women are able to push forward in their careers and climb the ladder, He said.
Groups such as the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), and the Women’s Insurance Networking Group (WING) – both of which He is involved with – help increase awareness through events and are a platform to share skills and knowledge.
Despite the number of initiatives within the industry, there is still a long way to go, He explained, which is evident from the poor representation of women in insurance c-suites.
“Overall we are in the minority. We’re still a white, male-dominated environment. That’s just a fact,” she said.
So how can the industry and its key players keep the momentum going?
“For one, it has to come from the top. We are trying to do grassroots efforts such as WING… but unless we have men in the room, listening to us, understanding each other, it won’t happen,” He said. “We need their buy-in, we need their support.”
Employers also need to embrace the flexible working possibilities that technology has created, which can be particularly beneficial for those with families.
“The culture in some environments is still very face-time driven,” He said, pointing to the fact that work can be done by laptops and cell-phones in today’s world. “It’s not the same anymore, we can work anywhere in the world.”