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More work needed to promote insurance sector inclusivity: Panelists


NEW YORK — Progress has been made, but organizations still have work to do to build inclusive cultures where more women can advance into leadership roles in the insurance industry, according to a panel of speakers Thursday at the 2022 Business Insurance Women to Watch Awards & Leadership Conference.  

Diversity, equity and inclusion is something that the industry has lacked historically, said Michael Chang, head of corporate risk and broking North America at WTW.

“There's a lot of talent and diversity of thought, and diversity of people is what organizations need in this industry to be successful,” Mr. Chang said.

When he joined WTW 60 days ago, Mr. Chang said he saw that WTW’s senior executive leadership team in North America was not as diverse as he thought it should be and that it needed to change in order to execute its goals.

“I saw there were not that many women. I don’t think there were any people of color, and there may have been one person of the LGBTQ+ community. That’s pretty synonymous with a number of other companies across the U.S. in the financial services industry,” he said.

The team, made up of 40 senior executives in North America, now comprises 50% people of color, women and the LGBTQ+ community, Mr. Chang said. “They are all super talented; they were just overlooked,” he said.

In 2021, women held 21% of board seats, 19% of C-suite and 5% of CEO roles in the financial services sector, based on Deloitte LLP data, said Cynthia Beveridge, president of Aon Broking.

McKinsey & Co. data shows that 64% of financial services C-suite executives are white men and 23% are white women, while 9% are men of color and 4% are women of color, Ms. Beveridge said.

“Those are shocking because we’ve been at this for quite some time. We’re on a journey,” she said.

Women of color comprise about 52% of entry-level positions in the financial services sector, and 57% in the insurance industry, but after that the representation falls off in every corporate position by 80%, Ms. Beveridge said.

While the insurance industry is making progress, “we should be thinking about what our firms look like and how we respond to our client base,” she said.

Lynn Oldfield, president and CEO of AIG Canada, said some 58% of her executive team are women. “There is diversity; 25% of my board are women and 48% of my managers are women simply through intention, investment and walking inclusion,” Ms. Oldfield said.

Building an inclusive workforce is “mission critical” to an organization’s financial health, she said. “Controlling the top and bottom line within an organization is, I believe, the future state and the ability to rise to the C-suite level,” she said.

AIG has 11 women running countries and regions around the world, Ms. Oldfield said. “Here in North America, our head of casualty, our head of financial lines and our global leader of multinational are all women,” she said.

The session “Breaking glass ceilings – and walls” was moderated by Bonnie Boone, an executive broker and underwriting professional.

Ms. Boone was a 2008 Business Insurance Women To Watch honoree and in 2015 was one of three past honorees to be recognized with Business Insurance Impact Awards for their exceptional contributions to diversity and inclusion in their industries.