Insurers live in the world of risk. Whether it’s determining how much (or little) risk to take in underwriting a given policy, or developing risk mitigation procedures to protect their organization, the idea of minimizing exposure to factors that can’t be controlled is embedded in the framework of the industry.
It is with this awareness of risk that insurers have always sought to stay a step ahead in all facets of business, including in taking a leadership role in progressing the gender diversity–and equality–discussion forward. The industry is coalescing around this issue, working to support the development of women into leadership roles in today’s workplace. And while great progress has been made, there is still much more that we can do.
Before looking forward, let’s step back and look at where we are today. Last year, Mike Angelina, executive director of the Academy of Risk Management and Insurance at Saint Joseph’s University, released research indicating that women are underrepresented in leadership positions within the insurance industry. According to his data, just 12.6% of women in the industry hold board of director positions, only 8% are inside officers and 6% hold C-suite positions. Those are pretty sobering figures–especially when one considers that a full 60% of new insurance employees are women.
Our industry deserves and can do better.
The fact of the matter is that the most successful companies are the ones who have embraced the development of women into leadership roles. Earlier this year, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, released a paper titled “The Case for Investing in Women” that outlined the huge difference women make to an organization. Among the findings were two interesting points:
- When Fortune 500 companies had at least three female directors their return on invest capital jumped over 66%, their return on sales went up 42% and their return on equity increased by 52%.
- Gallup noted that companies with increased diversity have a 22% lower turnover rate.
Clearly, gender diversity–especially at the leadership level–are critical to organizational success. But change does not happen overnight. It requires discussion, leadership and, more importantly, action. That’s why the insurance industry is uniting alongside the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation this June to host The Women in Insurance Conference Series, a collection of four forums aimed at progressing the conversation around gender diversity into action.
“Our industry is cutting edge in so many ways,” said Deborah Aldredge, Chief Administrative Officer at Farmers. “With a strong majority new industry entrants being female, it’s time that we put our collective strengths together to ensure that women have every opportunity to progress into positions of leadership.”
Farmers, alongside National Presenting Sponsor XL, CNA, ACE, Chubb, Guy Carpenter, Munich Re, The Hartford, Travelers, Willis, Zurich, and many others will sponsor the regional events being held in Chicago (June 3) Los Angeles (June 12), New York (June 17) and in Dallas (June 19) and are open to all industry employees.
We have long prided ourselves on being the bedrock of community and being advocates for change and action. After all, insurance is one of those rare fields that touches nearly every man and woman in our country. As such, we must advocate that the industry itself be comprised from the same diverse public we serve.