Mentorship and Professional Development are Critical for Career Progression
In McKinsey & Company’s survey on Women in the Workplace, mentorship was cited as the most critical contributor to success (2019). Women who have received advice from leaders are more likely to achieve promotions and are better able to navigate career progression. However, the results from the same study suggest that men are more likely to have managers who advocate on their behalf.
Furthermore, women may not recognize the importance of these early-stage professional relationships and, in the practice of role modeling, are more likely to seek mentorship from other females. However, as women climb the ladder, the pool of mentors narrows, and the number of female role models diminishes.
To combat this cycle, some organizations offer ’in-house’ mentorship programs, such as mentoring ADVANTAGE, a program run by the Insurance Institute of Canada that offers formal sponsorship programs, to support employees and demonstrate their commitment to creating an inclusive and diverse culture.
Professional development services may help break the cycle, such as skills and resource training, career coaching programs, and company-wide communications regarding internal promotions. Multiple insurance companies, such as The Traveler’s Group, Intact, the RSA Group, and AIG, support their female employees by offering guidance services, leadership programs, and career mapping. By providing a practical exercise that helps female employees identify actionable steps they can take to advance in their careers, these companies are communicating and reinforcing the value of their contributions.
Another leader in the insurance industry, Lloyd’s of London, is addressing the issue of gender inequality head-on with initiatives such as Inclusion@Lloyd’s, a “governing body comprised of senior executives,” tasked with, “supporting industry-wide initiatives that create impact and lead to action.” One such initiative is an employee resource group, Lloyd’s Inclusion Inspire, which is committed to creating an “open, inclusive, and supportive environment where colleagues can connect and share on gender equality within Lloyd’s. The activities undertaken by the group include promoting awareness around issues regarding gender equality around the office and addressing critical topics in an open forum.
An Inclusive Workplace Goes Beyond Bias Training
It begins at the top with leaders viewing and publically committing to gender equality as a strategic priority, which sends the signal that they are committed to diversity. A Glassdoor study surveying 1,000 individuals across North America shows that 67% of candidates consider the diversity of a company when considering an offer, and 61% of female surveyed consider the diversity of the leadership team before accepting a new position (Harvard Business Review, 2019).
Those who are unable to keep up risk losing talent to companies with diverse makeup, which may negatively affect their performance and value creation. Companies such as the Economical Group and AIG publish an annual public accountability statement, which outlines their goals and progress for creating a diverse and inclusive work environment. This open form of commitment and transparency allows organizations to attract and retain a diverse portfolio of talent that will lend itself to innovation throughout the company.
A traditionally male-dominated industry, talent recruiters are changing the way they approach attracting talent in today’s shifting landscape, especially when it comes to women.
“Due to the lack of diversity in the industry, it’s hard for women to see themselves in insurance, especially in leadership roles,” says Javiera Ibacache, Recruiter at Zensurance. “We want women to know insurance is a viable option, where they can grow professionally and expand their skill set.” With partnerships at several colleges across Southern Ontario, including Centennial, Humber, and Seneca, Zensurance is making it a priority to introduce young women to insurance as a career path.