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NEW YORK — The insurance industry has made progress with diversity but still lags, says Christine LaSala, senior independent director for Beazley Ltd.
“This annual event forces the insurance industry to stop and think about its talent,” Ms. LaSala told the capacity crowd in her lunchtime keynote address at the 2019 Business Insurance Women to Watch Awards & Leadership Conference in New York on Thursday.
The insurance industry, she said, “is dynamic and risk taking by industry but not known for its diversity.”
The business, however, has “come a long way” during her career spanning some six decades.
Ms. Lasala also was presented with the 2019 Women to Watch Icon Award at the event in recognition of her outstanding achievements as an insurance professional, which included being named the first and ultimately only female director of brokerage Johnson & Higgins, and her status as a role model in the industry.
She pointed to a lack of female leadership generally throughout industry, with only 33 female CEOs among the Fortune 500 Companies, “a scant 6.6%,” Ms. LaSala said.
She also noted that women today also hold 25% of board seats in Fortune 500 companies despite comprising 48% of the labor force.
Ms. LaSala advocated for greater female representation among business leadership.
“The research tells us that companies with women board members and women in senior management outperform companies without,” she said.
She also advocated simple measures for individuals attempting to plan for success.
“Hard work, common sense, and being on time compensate for many shortcomings,” she said. “I firmly believe that hard work gives you an edge when you need one most.”
Business Insurance magazine and the CLM have founded the Women to Watch Foundation to support women and girls globally by raising awareness and mobilizing resources toward programs that elevate their livelihoods, their health and to provide advancement opportunities. Launched at Women to Watch events in London and New York, the foundation is a 501(c)(3) with 100% of the proceeds going to humanitarian initiatives. For the first two years, the foundation will focus its philanthropic efforts on Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, an affiliate of the Dallas-based George W. Bush Institute, which helps educate, screen and treat women and girls for cervical cancer in Sub-Sahara Africa and Peru, where more than 92,000 women develop cervical cancer each year.