‘Why developing women leaders is critical to our success’

Dive In Festival for Insurance

So you turn to your manager in the Insurance industry to ask if he would like to attend a Diversity Event, empowering more successful women in the workplace.  To which Mr. Manager replies ‘ I don’t see the point in attending something about the equality of women, what is there to discuss?  We have women that work here.’

This statement made by a man that authenticates the need and importance for events like the ‘Dive In Festival’ that took place throughout the city of London week.

The four day festival aims to expose the issues that we currently face in the Insurance industry and to tackle the lack of Diversity and Inclusion in the Insurance market head on.  Seminars and networking events throughout the covered the topics of gender, race, unconscious bias, LGBT and mental illness.

I attended two events on Tuesday that focused on ‘Why developing women leaders is critical to our success’.

The kick start session was hosted in the Willis Building in London and boasted an impressive panel:

Inga Beale (CEO Corporation of Lloyds), Baroness Karren Brady (Vice Chair, West Ham United), Jane Hill (BBC News Presenter) and Mike McGavick (CEO XL Group).

dive in

‘This is an innovative world and unless we can collaborate, insurance will lose its relevance.’ – Mike McGavick.

Did you know that diversity in an organisation is proved to increase companies profits by 70%? 70%! Yet..

  • Only 3% of Exec roles in insurance are filled by women.
  • Although there are more women than men in the Insurance industry , only 6% of these women are in Leadership roles

So Mr. Manager, your answer can simply be followed by another question– where is the equality? Was your reply a bout of clear ignorance or are you simply unaware of the lack of equality between men and women in this industry?

If the answer is the latter, this is likely to be the reason why there is still such a divide.

As a member of the audience very rightly pointed out to the panel “Under 5% of this audience are men. Don’t you think that we are preaching to the converted when you’re speaking to a room full of women?”

My thoughts exactly. I struggle to see how anything will change unless we get more men in leadership positions like panellist Mike McGavick to support the cause. As delightful as it was to see how passionate Mike is about the subject, at the forefront of steering the change, it takes more than one man to change the world.

Granted, we are making baby steps: when Lloyds of London appointed Inga Beale as the first female Chief Executive in their 325 year history it was a very big deal. This is evidence that we are starting to move forward and that’s great, but the truth is we’re still moving at a pace that’s decades behind other industries. “I stand before you worried” Mike says, “against the pace of change, our pace is just too damn slow.” Agreed.

So what has to be done/changed to make sure that the outcome of all this work is successful?

  • Support from the top – you can be as influential as you like, but if those in positions of power do not capitalize on their leadership, we will remain as we are.
  • Embrace the change: technology is enabling us to work more efficiently, we need to utilise this to allow more flexibility in people’s working lives
  • The composition of the workforce will change based on how we hire. Can you prove that there is a diverse pool of candidates for a role that you source?

We can be the agents of change by what we do and don’t tolerate, and everyone has a duty to encourage it. The change is coming, whether insurance likes it or not and it’s better to ride with the tide than battle against it.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Please feel free to add your comments and opinions.

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