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Women to Watch: Where are they now …

Women to Watch: Where are they now …

It's been 10 years since Business Insurance started the Women to Watch program. To celebrate that anniversary, during 2016 we are running a series of occasional articles catching up with some of our honorees.

Terri Austin

Chief corporate policy officer

McGraw Hill Financial Inc.

New York

2007 Woman to Watch

Chief diversity officer

American International Group Inc.

New York

Having the term “diversity” absent from her title for the first time in nearly a decade hasn't stopped Terri Austin from helping women, minorities and those with disabilities aim high in the workforce.

“I still feel like I am doing as much outside of diversity that I had done inside of diversity,” said Ms. Austin who was named one of Business Insurance's Women to Watch in 2007 when she was chief diversity officer at American International Group Inc. Now chief corporate policy officer for McGraw Hill Financial Inc. in New York, she said, “Diversity is something that will always be a part of who I am and what I do.”

In March 2015, Ms. Austin was promoted to chief corporate policy officer after more than four years as McGraw Hill Financial's vice president and chief diversity officer. Before that, she spent 20 years in various roles at AIG, hiring in as assistant general counsel in 1990; serving as senior vice president and general counsel at AIG Domestic Claims from 1995 to 2004; working as chief compliance officer for AIG's Domestic Brokerage Group in 2004; and finally, in 2007, being appointed to the newly created position of chief diversity officer for AIG.

Ms. Austin left the large financial services firm in 2010, after living through the fallout from the financial crisis that started in 2008.

“AIG was still feeling that in 2010, and I saw the writing on the wall; it (the economic downturn) let me find a company that was more stable,” she said. From there she sought a role at McGraw Hill Financial. The company at the time had a large footprint in the publishing world.

“I was trying to combine my legal and diversity with my journalism,” said Ms. Austin, a graduate of both Columbia University's School of Law and School of Journalism.

McGraw Hill Financial has since sold most of its publishing arms — Business Week magazine, McGraw-Hill Education, which produced textbooks, and nine television stations. “That's what brought me here, but I stayed because it's an incredible company,” she said. Spotting opportunity in McGraw Hill Financial's legal department, Ms. Austin made the leap in 2015 to her current position.

So far she has been successful in what she calls a mainstay in her career: enhancing workforce diversity. Among her ongoing tasks is revamping corporate policies. Just recently she helped insert a diversity-training module in the McGraw Hill Financial code of business ethics and helped create a diversity policy with human resources, a department with which she is also developing initiatives that will promote diversity, she said.

“In my legal role, I still have an opportunity to affect the employees and train them as far as inclusiveness,” Ms. Austin added. “I am looking forward to working with McGraw Hill Financial in ensuring that we have a diverse workforce and that overall we are inclusive of all thoughts and backgrounds and perspectives.”

Watch for the next profile in our "Where are they now..." series next month. You can read previous "Where are they now..." profiles by visiting this page.

To read the 2007 interview with Ms. Austin click here.

To read profiles of all the Business Insurance Women to Watch since 2006 click here.

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