New York (July 20, 2016) – 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. Notable speakers included Sophia Yen, Head of U.S. Insurance Strategy & Operations at KPMG, John Vasturia, President of Specialty Markets at Munich Reinsurance America Inc., Tracey Ant, Senior Vice President of Field Sales & Execution at The Hartford, and many other industry influencers.
“It is truly rewarding to recognize that these successful women have left our conferences inspired and equipped to catalyze change in their communities and workplaces,” said Betsy Myatt, Executive Director of IICF’s Northeast Division. “As the Women in Insurance Conference Series continues to grow, so too do the programs and networks that become available for women that champion career advancement and leadership.”
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.
About the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation
The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation was established in 1994 and is completely directed and funded by the insurance industry. The foundation helps communities and enriches lives by uniting the collective strengths of the industry to provide grants, volunteer service and leadership. Since its inception in 1994, IICF has contributed more than $25.3 million in grants to charities and 218,722 volunteer hours to hundreds of community nonprofit organizations. IICF is a registered not-for-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Learn more at about the IICF at www.iicf.org.