NAILBA: Women Breaking into Brokerage
By Linda Koco
PHOENIX - Even though women in the insurance business do hold senior level positions, it is still a male-dominated business, according to life insurance executive Joan Cleveland.
The question is, what do women — and men — need to know about addressing the issues that inevitably crop up?
The National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA) decided to create a forum for “fun and frank conversation” about that question, said Cleveland in an interview with InsuranceNewsNet.
This year’s Women in Brokerage Workshop will tackle the subject by looking at women’s issues from a man’s perspective, said Cleveland, who is senior vice president-business development in the individual life business of Prudential Financial and host of the session.
This session runs today in advance of the opening day of the NAILBA 30 annual meeting here.
From a Man’s Perspective
The panelists aim to present both male and female perspectives on the issues that come up, said Cleveland.
Gender-related insecurities and doubts may arise in the course of the workday, and they may be real or perceived, she pointed out. The panelists will explore not only how successful insurance women have overcome those things or how they might address those things, but also how men might be thinking about the same topic, she said.
To ensure that the male perspective is represented, the program developers picked a man to serve as moderator. He is Jimmie Gonzalez, executive vice president-real estate and relocation services at Prudential, and someone with deep leadership experience, said Cleveland.
“Jimmie may listen to a concern and then say, ‘you may think that it’s real, but we males never even consider that,’ ” she said. “Or, he might say, ‘you’re spot-on with that, and this is how men tend to deal with those issues. ’”
Some of the issues raised are designed to use the panelists as a sounding board. For instance, the panelists may be asked about the assumptions that organizations hold about skills and behaviors for advancement. “And are these gender-sensitive?” Cleveland asked.
Or, the panelist may be asked to comment on the potential impact that a woman’s performance might have on paving the way for other women who come along after her.
That could be a relevant issue for women in brokerage, Cleveland said. “There are more women in leadership roles in the life insurance industry today than in previous eras,” she explained, “but there are not that many women in the brokerage business. Why is that?”
A related issue is whether there are, or should be, efforts to recruit more women into brokerage, she said.
Not Just One-and-Done
The presenters don’t want just to disseminate information, a meeting where attendees say “that’s nice” and then forget about it, Cleveland stressed.
To that end, she said, all of the panelists have agreed to respond to post-workshop contacts from workshop members. The goal is to encourage mentoring not only during the session but after.
“We want the people who attend to be able to walk away and (start working on) their own individual development plan … and to know that they now have a national network to whom they can reach out and ask questions.”
To foster sharing, the workshop will both start and end with a reception where mixing and networking is the priority. In addition, the seating will be at high and low round tables “to encourage familiarity and congeniality,” Cleveland said.
The panelists are: Christie Corado, senior vice present and associate general counsel at Crump Life Insurance Services; Pat Joline, president of Joline Associates; Melinda Meyer, vice president at Valmark Securities; and Carol Random, CEO of CMR consulting Group, LLC.
These are all very strong women who hold leadership roles in the business, Cleveland said. “That should make things interesting.”
Linda Koco, MBA, is a contributing editor to InsuranceNewsNet, specializing in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Linda can be reached at [email protected].
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