The insurance industry is demonstrating significant progress when it comes to gender equality, according to 86 percent of women attending the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) 2016 Women in Insurance Conference Series. The study, which was conducted for the third straight year, measured the sentiment of over 400 respondents attending the conferences across the country during June.
The statistics represent a significant jump from last year’s results, where less than three-quarters (72 percent) of attendees agreed that strides were being made to achieve gender equality. When asked to identify the trend that has had the most profound impact on the improvement of gender equality in the industry across the past five years, respondents pointed to a few key themes. Forty-four percent stated the most important trend is the active recruitment of a gender-diverse workforce, and 22 percent cited the establishment of mentorship programs for women. Another 20 percent named the sponsorship of executive networking opportunities carried the most weight.
“While barriers still exist for women who seek to advance within their careers, we have seen a shift in thought among women in the industry – where lack of opportunities for upward mobility is no longer the primary obstacle,” said Erin Calvey, executive vice president at Ironshore Insurance Co. and Conference Series speaker. “We see now more than ever the importance of women uplifting and supporting each other in order to collectively inspire progress. Beyond the impact this has for women who are already veterans of the industry, this is a vital trend to cultivate as the industry aligns itself to hire the next generation of insurance professionals.”
Additional key findings from the survey include:
- Eighty-seven percent of respondents stated that their company in particular is actively working to promote gender diversity (up from 68 percent last year).
- When it comes to the advancement of women to senior leadership roles, 32 percent of respondents rank insurance as the most supportive industry in financial services –outpaced only by the accounting industry (other options included investment services and banking). This figure represents a marked increase from 2015’s results, where insurance ranked last at 12 percent.
- Thirty-five percent of respondents attribute the biggest challenge to women ascending in leadership roles as women not promoting themselves enough or effectively. This result differs from last year, where over one third of respondents cited limited opportunities to move up the corporate ladder as the biggest obstacle.
Some of the key discussions from this year’s conference series focused on promoting a gender diverse workforce, building a strong network, navigating potential roadblocks and dispelling myths about why women don’t reach greater heights.
Held via four separate forums in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles this June, IICF’s 2016 Women in Insurance Conference Series was host to nearly 1,300 industry professionals across the nation.
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