By Richard Smith, President of VT Captive Insurance Association (VCIA)
You might remember that earlier this year I did a blog on women in leadership roles in the insurance industry (or the lack there of). I kind of smugly talked about how proud I was of the captive industry and specifically VCIA, in the number of women in leadership roles. And though I am still proud of the efforts in our niche, I was reminded that there is still a long way to go and we, males that is, can’t take these efforts for granted.
I was invited to an event last night that brought together male business and community leaders in Burlington, Vermont who acknowledge that gender equality means a stronger economy. And although I continue to see extremely talented young women join the ranks of captive insurance, much of the responsibility for effecting meaningful progress toward greater equality between male and female professionals within a corporate culture will fall to the most senior executives.
One startling statistic from the organization Change the Story Vermont was that on our current trajectory, with all the advancements we have made toward gender equality, the gender gap is projected to disappear in Vermont in the year 2048 – that’s 32 years people!
With that in mind, here are a couple of things we can start to do:
- Encourage women to apply for jobs for which you think they’re qualified but they’re likely to dismiss as beyond their experience.
- Reach out to younger colleagues who are beginning their careers. Ask them questions about what led them to your field, what they like about their work, and where they’d like to be in 10 years.
- Give women meaningful opportunities to lead and have a voice in decision-making by inviting them to serve on advisory committees and boards of directors.
- Invite 1-2 young women to attend a business or social event with you; expose them to new connections and widen their professional circles. Share your own stories – successes, pitfalls, and unanticipated discoveries – with those around you; they can inspire, provide perspective, and encourage persistence.
- Be an ambassador for inclusion – reach out to a new person in your workplace and help her settle in. When you see people excluded at work or at after-work gatherings, look for ways to change it up.
Check out other ideas and statistics at www.changethestoryvt.org or a similar organization in your domicile. Let’s make it work!
Thank you all very much, and I look forward to hearing from you.