Past, present and future.
To see where women in insurance have gone, are going, and what they are going through, you’re likely to find words of value at the Authentic Success panel discussion at the upcoming Women in Insurance Conference on October 5 in Los Angeles at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. The panel is sponsored by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
“We arranged the panel very intentionally because there are different generations, if you will, of women who have been involved in insurance,” said Alexandra Glickman (pictured left), senior managing director, global practice leader – real estate and hospitality at Gallagher. “The whole purpose of this panel is to talk about how women can be successful without always playing the ‘woman’ card.”
Glickman wants attendees to understand how “you can be successful here, your authentic self, and be a student of insurance,” she said.
When Glickman started in the industry, it was a lot more white, male, and straight. Now, “it has evolved,” she said, and there are more women both in insurance and on the financial side.
“A big part of it has been the evolution of legitimacy,” Glickman said. Now, she finds it “more egalitarian and it’s not a zero sum game anymore. That’s a big improvement.”
For Chelsea Laing (pictured center), area senior vice president at Gallagher, ageism is a more relevant subject for her.
“I am younger. I think some people may not trust that I know what I’m talking about or that I know what I’m doing because of my age,” Laing said. “That’s definitely something that I’ve had to deal with. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.”
Glickman is most excited to see the diversity at the upcoming conference and “there is an opportunity for people to be role models and mentors,” she said. “Women don’t typically talk tough. They don’t like being confronted.” Glickman stressed that women should not think that they “have to walk around with a sledgehammer, but I do think you have to walk around teaching people that you know what you’re talking about. You have the authority to be communicating that way.”
It’s only by talking and sharing stories that connections get made.
“I’m gay. I’ve got four bi-racial children. I’ve got a fabulous five-year-old grandson. But if you look at me, you’d probably never know that,” Glickman said. “Part of this is shooting holes through stereotypes. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Laing is also looking forward to the conference, especially “sharing my experience and hopefully that resonates with somebody,” she said. “You can break those stereotypes. You can break the mold without being a bull in a China shop.”
Rounding out the trio is Emily Loupee (pictured right), area senior vice president at Gallagher, who is a mother of three – children aged 11, nine and six - in the middle of her career.
“I’m very passionate about mentorship and education,” she said. “That really helps me feel like I’m part of the family. Being part of a family feels better than working for a boss. It’s just a slight perspective change, but it’s one that’s valuable and makes a difference.”
Loupee is active in mentoring new employees and the summer internship program.
“I’m at the point in my career where I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I have something to teach,” she said. “It energizes me. I love feeling like I’m helping and staying connected.”
In terms of how women are treated in the industry, “it’s gotten a lot better,” she said. “But I do think that there is still a stigma around a woman, that she’s not as competent as a man…there’s still that stigma that exists in general that I feel like I’m constantly pushing up against.”
When entering a meeting with a client, where she has done the lion’s share of the work, there’s a feeling that “it seems to me like a man needs to be there, that sort of thing. Sometimes older male clients want to have a male connection at the meeting.”
“I do think it has gotten a little better,” Loupee added. But she makes sure she leans in: “I’m not afraid to speak up and raise my hand and have an opinion. Hopefully, when people get to know me, they realize that I’m just as competent as a male broker would be.”
Loupee gives thanks to her husband whom she calls an equal partner and who is supportive. But doing it “50/50…that’s not the norm,” with women who work still having to do the bulk of the housework as well, while also having to attend the important networking cocktails, and working late, and also juggling the morning breakfast routine and school run.
“If you’ve got children, that makes it very difficult to do those things, and sometimes that puts you out of the running for being in a more senior, respected broker (position),” she said.
One thing she would like to teach is for women not to supress that which makes them feminine.
“My advice to others is to show your real personality and not be afraid to do things that are traditionally feminine, and, honestly, use them as a strength,” Loupee said. She sees younger women who are “afraid to show themselves,” leaving their personality at the office door in the hopes that only their business side will be seen and measured. “They’re so afraid to show it. You can be funny, you can make a joke. You can just be yourself. You can talk about the things that you love outside of work and it just enriches your connections with other people.”
Loupee added that: “I love how women are coming together and supporting each other and we just keep pushing forward.”
To find out more about the Women in Insurance Los Angeles event – and to register – follow this link.