Women insurance leaders and the bigger picture

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Having played a role at the start, I’ve always been passionate about Digital Insurance’s Women in Insurance Leadership program.

My interest came by accident: My first formal insurance industry conference was an International Insurance Institute annual meeting, where I was one of four or five women in an audience of about 800. Although I had worked for several years at two of the largest U.S.-based insurance companies, I was relatively new in my role as editor-in-chief of what was then called Insurance Networking News, and didn’t understand that I didn’t know my place. This made for a few interesting one-way conversations with some of the higher-ranking male executives in attendance, as I pushed forward asking questions they were not interested in answering.

Of course, that was years ago and the insurance industry’s culture and demographics have evolved. Today, thankfully, women make up a much greater portion of the executive ranks.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing many executive-level women, as well as the 100-or-so women from all lines of business who have been recognized as WIL honorees since the program’s inception. This year was no exception, and what strikes me about these female executives is that they are not focused on breaking the glass ceiling; they are focused on being challenged and providing value to their organizations.

“I am a collaborator, a negotiator,” says one 2017 honoree, “and I’d rather be thinking bigger picture [instead of males and females fighting for C-level positions.] I need to deliver on my organization’s strategic plan and do it successfully. If I can do that, success will follow.”

Another woman puts it this way: “We might be concerned about some of the problems that still exist, such as the latest reports about harassment out of Silicon Valley, or the Catalyst report on the number of female CEOs at S&P 500 companies. But it’s up to us, individually, to make good career choices and surround ourselves with a collection of support that will enable us to learn, grow and deliver value.”

The 10 honorees of Digital Insurance's 12-year-old program are leading their companies through a transformative time for the industry.
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Here’s my perspective. As each of us strives toward growth, it’s that collection of support (such as that provided by WIL’s networking and education opportunities) that helps to keep us motivated, informed and incentivized to rally forward.

The dates for this year’s event have changed (check the website for information about the event on Sept. 13-14 in Chicago), but the quality of the education and networking opportunities has not. I’m excited to spend time with this year’s honorees, other seasoned veterans, enlightened males and up-and-coming leaders, and learn about how they plan to take their companies forward. Hope you can join me.

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