US women in insurance see ‘gender inequality’

Nearly nine out of 10 respondents to an IICF survey said gender inequality in insurance is a "significant concern."

Insurance News


Almost nine out of 10 women surveyed at four conferences in the United States said there was gender inequality in the insurance industry.

More than 800 female members of the insurance industry were survey by the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) at four recent conferences in June, and the vast majority of those surveyed saw gender inequality as a “significant concern for the insurance industry today.”

“Though we as an industry have made significant strides in creating a positive and equal work environment, there is still more we can do,” says Joe Tocco, chief executive of North America Property & Casualty for XL Group. “Collectively, the industry has been successful in continuing an important dialogue about gender diversity and the tangible, real-world benefits it provides for companies and their employees. These conferences have created a forum for both women and men to discuss issues they see in their everyday lives and work together to find solutions for themselves and the next generation of insurance professionals.”

As to the extent they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “Gender equality is a significant concern for the insurance industry today,” 37% ‘strongly agreed’ while 52% ‘agreed.’

Only 10% ‘disagreed’ while 1% ‘strongly disagreed.’

There is certainly evidence for the feelings expressed here, particularly with regard to the glass ceiling issue.

According to a study of 100 insurance companies conducted by Michael Angelina, the Executive Director of the Academy of Risk Management & Insurance at Saint Joseph’s University, only 12.6 percent of boards of director seats were occupied to women in 2012.
Even worse, only 6 percent of top executive positions - 15 out of 250 – were held by female officials.

“The numbers are very telling,” said Angelina.  “The lack of gender diversity is very significant.”

The good news, however, is that a majority also reported their respective companies are "actively promoting gender diversity," according to the IICF, with 44% ‘agreeing’ that their companies were promoting gender diversity, and 24% ‘strongly agreeing.’

Eileen Greene, vice president and partner with HUB International HKMB Ltd., told Insurance Business that the industry could be doing more to attract more women.

“The insurance industry needs to do a better job at attracting young professionals - especially young women,” says Greene. “The industry offers the opportunity to act in the same trusted professional advisor capacity as a doctor, lawyer or accountant. The industry needs to promote this aspect of our profession over the view that insurance is just a necessary evil.”

Other takeaways from the survey:

Which financial services sector most supports the advancement of women in senior leadership roles?

- 42% accounting;
- 29% banking;
- 23% insurance; and
- 6% investment services.

What is the biggest barrier to entry for women seeking leadership positions in their company?

- 38% biases in advancement/hiring structure;
- 38% lack of desire for leadership roles to be filled by women at the senior level;
- 17% desire to start a family; and
- 7% lack of opportunities for professional development/advancement training.

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