By Loretta L. Worters, Vice President – Media Relations, Insurance Information Institute
Women are advancing throughout the insurance industry. Hard work is one factor behind their success, but so are perseverance, supportive mentors, and willingness to take risks with their careers.
Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the work that still needs to be done, but it’s also a time to celebrate the inroads that have been made. The Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), has created a series of interviews showcasing dynamic women leaders — trailblazers who have built successful careers in the industry. We’ll hear their stories, providing insight on how they made it to the C-suite and their advice to young women just entering insurance.
Check back to see the interviews by clicking on this link: #womenshistorymonth
Studies have found that greater gender diversity can help organizations be more innovativeand higher performing. Many female CEOs have led their companies’ stocks to outperform the index in terms of cumulative total returns during their tenures. Some have managed to produce triple- and even quadruple-digit percentage gains.
More specific to the insurance industry, a McKinsey report found that while women outnumber men at entry-level positions, their representation of the workforce is significantly smaller near the top of the organizational chart.
Women of color in insurance hold only 12 percent of entry-level roles and a mere 3 percent of direct-reporting roles to the CEO. And black, Hispanic, and Asian women altogether make up only 3 percent of the insurance C-suite.
Growing Wages for Women Helped Narrow Gender Pay Gap, Though Women Still Lag Behind Men in Pay
According to PayScale.com women are often undervalued for the work they do, are more likely to hold lower-level, lower-paying jobs, and tend to stagnate in their careers, still making only $0.79 for every dollar made by men in 2019. Moreover, Hired.com’s State of Wage Inequality in the Workplace found that companies pay women on average 4 percent to as much as 45 percent less than men in the same jobs — and these numbers haven’t changed since the company released its second annual 2017 report. In addition, 60 percent of the time men are offered higher salaries than a woman, for the same role at the same company. The survey further reveals that of the 61 percent of women who discovered they were being paid less than men at the same role in their company, 16 percent found the difference was at least $20K.
Women’s experiences in the workforce also vary vastly by race. PayScale.com noted that black and Hispanic women experience even wider pay gaps than white women, start their careers in lower-paying positions, and are less likely than white women to make it to the C-suite.
And disparity in earnings inevitably leads to a disparity in retirement savings, according to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, which has further implications for women, who generally have a longer life expectancy than their male counterparts.
Swiss Re Institute estimates that a 26 percent increase in global GDP in a scenario of labor market gender parity would yield an additional $2.1 trillion in global insurance premiums by 2029.
How the Industry is Working to Make a Difference
“By focusing on solutions to achieve gender parity, insurers and reinsurers can address a key driver of the widening protection gaps facing individuals, families and societies.”–Marianne Gilchrist, Head Global & South Asia, Hong Kong, Swiss Re
Insurers are making significant strides to improve gender diversity by creating sponsorship programs and addressing unconscious bias. There is, for example, the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index, which tracks the financial performance of public companies committed to supporting gender equality through policy development, representation, and transparency.The 2020 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index includes 325 companies across 50 industries, including insurance headquartered in 42 countries and regions.
Here are a few of the organizations that are making a tremendous difference:
- Association of Professional Women is dedicated to encouraging women to embody the future of insurance through participation, progressive education, and engagement with forward thinking industry professionals.
- Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) and their Women in Insurance Conference Series, led by pioneer Elizabeth (Betsy) Myatt, vice president and chief program officer of IICF.
- Women’s Insurance Networking Group (WING) which helps increase awareness through events and are a platform to share skills and knowledge.
- Women in Insurance Initiative (WII) is a consortium of organizations throughout the insurance industry, which is taking substantive and measurable action by recruiting, mentoring, and sponsoring women to drive equality in career advancement and leadership throughout the insurance industry.