Female leadership in insurance – practical next steps


In this series, I have been examining the case of women’s leadership in insurance from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. While the research paints a compelling picture of progress in some areas, women leaders in insurance also highlight the change that still needs to happen in the industry. In this final article in the series, we look to the future, hearing from women leaders about how they can move the industry forward.

What do insurance companies do?

Many of the women interviewed agreed that insurance needs to focus on creating a level playing field for women to advance to leadership positions. From the conversation, it is clear that such initiatives are already underway in the industry.

Nuria FernandezAnd general manager in AXA madrid international center, He mentions “We have seen that most of the major insurance companies have already established a foundation regarding equality and diversity, and put in place various initiatives to promote the advancement of women at various levels of the organization, especially in executive positions. We see more and more leaders of the insurance industry present in women’s forums and actively share their initiatives on social media social networking, and it’s great to see that it’s becoming increasingly relevant to employers and employees.”

Marga Gabarro-OlivierCFO and COO in Zurich Spain also refers to The insurance industry is making progress on gender equality and I think the foundation for the playing field is there. However, the pace of change must be accelerated to bridge existing gaps. This needs external commitments, the transition from awareness to action. In Spain, Zurich is one of the founders radioIt is a sectoral initiative involving 70% of the insurance companies in the country with part of the brokers and official institutions such as the Insurance Federation uniceba and Consorcio. REDEWI has set as a goal that in 2023 40% of executive positions should be filled by women. This network has set up different working groups among insurance companies to provide programs on training and development, work-life balance and vision.”

Maria Jose Alvarez. Director of Innovation, Marketing and Development Grupo Catalana Occidente He adds, “We are deeply committed to effective equality of opportunity. As an insurance group, we believe that diversity, equality and inclusion are not only fundamental rights, but also competitive advantages for our business and a priority strategy in managing people and generating an inclusive culture that promotes a balance between professional and personal life in all areas.”

Allison KuhnAccenture Senior Director, Marketing, Southern Insurance (NA), agrees:I think while I’ve seen leadership make positive changes with the new appointments, it’s nowhere near the threshold we might hope at this point.”

So clearly more can be done to accelerate change in insurance. How can insurance companies nurture female employees in the workforce and create a path to leadership?

Fueling the pipeline with female talent

First, we need to start from a rich pipeline of female talent. Women leaders agree that there are many reasons to promote insurance work among women.

Marga Jabaro Emphasizing the diverse career paths available in the industry at the moment for women at all levels of their careers, Olivet of Zurich states, “The insurance sector is undergoing a major transformation, offering very interesting opportunities for professional growth and work in a community of talented people with diverse personal and academic backgrounds.”

Carey LownesGeneral Manager at P & C insurance consulting practice at Accenture He says, “Insurance is one of those industries that has a side to everything. If you want to do underwriting or risk-taking or actuary, there are many opportunities. If you’re someone in a relationship, there’s another path within the field that you can choose. With client expectations that you’ve reached To heights never seen before, there is a place for people who want to exercise their creative minds and offer comprehensive and personal protection.”

“Several dynamics make the insurance industry a challenging, fun and exciting place – if you love solving analytical problems, you have endless options, or if you are a related person, there are prime career opportunities too – and what is perhaps the most exciting part is solving the cutting-edge nature For risks; knowing how to price and take UW risks that didn’t exist even a year ago. With customer expectations and technological changes reaching heights we’ve never seen before, insurance is a great place for people who want to exercise their creative minds and offer comprehensive, personal protection.”

Nuria Fernandez, General Manager, AXA Madrid International Hub, Approves: “There is a lot of room for advancement for women in insurance as there are many different jobs where women can further their potential. The industry is evolving and offers great opportunities for young professionals and new fields such as data scientists, marketers, digitalists, etc. There is opportunity for cross-functional growth.”

María José Álvarez of Grupo Catalana Occidente also highlights competitive salaries and flexibility as two factors that make insurance an interesting industry for women to carve out a career in: “Working in the insurance industry is very attractive for several reasons. In the Spanish case, insurance companies offer high-quality job opportunities.” , reflected in the stability of the contract, bonuses, matchmaking procedures, training plans, social benefits, commitment to equality and diversity.Furthermore, 84% of workers in the insurance industry have a flexible working day, and 97% of them received a training plan during the year.These are the data which demonstrate the industry’s commitment to promoting initiatives that lead to an increase in the welfare and satisfaction of its workers.”

Ultimately, women are needed in the workforce at all levels. Catherine BaysDirector of Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability Grupo Ageas Portugal Lisbon He explains why, “The insurance industry offers many rewarding career opportunities, for all interests and skill levels. Ultimately, an insurance company must reflect the clients it serves, and women are needed in the workforce.”

Paving the way for women’s leadership

The next step is for companies to foster an environment of inclusive opportunity, where women are able to advance their careers at the same rate as men.

Catherine Baez commented: “As an industry, we need to do more to ensure career opportunities are fair and visible to all, and women should not feel like their gender is a hindrance to their career progression. We need to create equity and opportunities for everyone to progress within the company. We can do this by providing Clear and equitable paths to success and put the right processes and initiatives and transparent infrastructure (formal and informal) in place to ensure all employees, men and women, feel supported and included in their career journey. We have to bridge the pay gap and create partnerships and programs that address training topics.”

Accenture’s Alison Kuhn recommends.Measures need to combine training for top performers with anti-bias training for executives. To accelerate the narrowing of the gender gap, financial incentives for leaders who increase female representation on their executive teams are also key. It is also important to build women-specific management paths that are tailored to women within companies and that take into account the unique needs of female professionals. For example, leaders need to ensure that any life events do not disqualify someone or set back their career.

Finally, management training that brings awareness to some of the systemic patterns of gender equality in the past that have impeded progress in this field is crucial. Ultimately, companies must recognize that everyone can be part of the solution and build a foundation of support for the women leaders around us. Leaders must hold accountable by setting gender and diversity metrics and goals with a timeline for completion.

In conclusion

As the discussions in this series demonstrate, workforce diversity and equal opportunity will be key to the resilience of an industry undergoing significant transformation.

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Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors.