Removing barriers to opportunity remains critical even as the insurance industry makes strides in advancing gender equality, leaders and executives said today in marking International Women’s Day (IWD).
“Embracing equality and continuing to strive for a gender-equal world free of prejudice and discrimination is important today, but to effect real change it must be about the actions and decisions we make every day -day,” Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) CEO Andrew Hall said.
“I am proud that our executive leadership team for ICA is predominantly women, reflecting the diversity and changes happening more broadly in our industry.”
Stella Insurance, a direct car insurer aimed at women and founded by high-profile UK businessman Sam White, said the IWD was a reminder of the “great strides and frontiers women have made”. but there is more to fight for.
Stella said the gender pay gap remains too wide, and that prioritizing transparency could make a difference, while free or more affordable childcare has proven to boost women’s participation in the workforce.
Action must be taken to ensure women are not underrepresented in key decision-making roles, it said, while changes are also needed in a health care system that often fails women.
“In the fight for women’s rights, International Women’s Day can be a great catalyst for leapfrogging,” it said. “But it’s important to remember that issues like this can’t be solved overnight, and for meaningful change to happen, small steps need to be taken every day.”
BMS Group today announced a Gender Equity Network, dedicated to raising awareness of the challenges women face in the workplace and aims to support them at all stages of their careers.
“While the insurance industry has been slow to embrace gender equality, it is great that we are now seeing a large number of women in senior positions,” said BMS Australia Head of Operations Celia McCormack in a post on LinkedIn. “Ok, maybe not enough change to start celebrating, but in the last decade there has definitely been a positive change.”
Broking group Resilium says 72% of its workforce is now women, working at all levels of seniority.
GM Broking Angela O’Neil said women have been promoted from within and joined from outside the business during a period of rapid change, and the current management team includes strong leaders with diverse perspective, regardless of gender.
Recent changes in the industry are paving the way for the next generation and perspectives are changing compared to when Ms O’Neil entered the industry more than two decades ago, she said.
“I do a lot of mentoring, a lot of talking to younger women, whether it’s formal or informal, to try and make sure they know there’s a real future for them in insurance,” she told insuranceNEWS.com. oh
“It’s not the same as when I started. My family members, my parents, aunts and uncles are amazed that I have this title. One of them even said ‘is there no man available’. It’s something we all do, that fades away.”
National Insurance Brokers Association director and past president Dianne Phelan, also BJS Insurance Group Operations Manager, said the potential for female insurance professionals to thrive has never been stronger.
“Increasing the presence of women around board tables is becoming the norm and that natural diversity of thought can only improve outcomes for everyone,” she told BrokerBuzz.
A report by Moody’s Analytics says that improving gender equality in management positions can unlock higher economic growth worldwide, particularly in developing countries where higher usable potential.
“Shifting social norms is a long and complex process, but policies such as implementing flexible working conditions, providing affordable childcare, and providing paid maternity and paternity leave are helping to drive change in the right direction,” it said.
A Status of Women Report Card released by the Albanese Government today says the Australian gender pay gap appears immediately after graduation, and women nearing retirement have 23.1% lower superannuation than men at the same age
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