Canadian Underwriter

Courage to Lead

January 13, 2012   by Mia Williamson

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Mia Williamson, publisher, Canadian Insurance Top Broker

Very often, successful professionals are disappointed that their own children choose not to follow in their footsteps. I am very gratified that my teenage daughter often expresses a desire to have a career in media. It’s clear she sees I’m energized by my work and inspired by those who work around me to make Rogers Publishing successful. It’s inspiring to be able to show her a diverse workplace in an industry where women are well represented in senior positions.

Lately, however, I’ve begun drawing inspiration not only from those on my right and left, but from the industry our magazine reports on and serves.

As demonstrated by this special issue focused on women in insurance, this industry can be proud of the fact that it’s addressing gender imbalances at the leadership level more effectively than many other industries in Canada. As an indication of what is going on at the C-suite level, Catalyst Canada recently compiled a list of 27 companies that have women CEOs from the Financial Post 500. Six of those 27 are insurers and another five are financial services companies.

Clearly, leading Canadian companies understand the need to not only put the best people in the right seats, regardless of gender, but to provide women with the tools they need to get to the top tiers. A good example of this is the Annual Women’s Leadership event co-hosted by Aon and Chartis. This past May at the event which took place at the US RIMS conference, I had the pleasure to hear an inspiring keynote by Betsy Myers, who directs the Center for Women & Business at Bentley University in Massachusetts.

As a woman who has had successful careers in the corporate, academic, and political arenas, Myers knows that being a leader requires tremendous self-awareness and the right team of people who can support you. “Leadership is about self knowledge, authenticity, asking questions and not being afraid of honest feedback,” she said. Those comments spurred me to keep pace with the needs and aspirations of those around me.

A year from now, my daughter will head to university to start charting her own course. By the time she graduates, it’s safe to assume even more Canadian industries will have crafted environments that allow her, and her female peers, to achieve their utmost potential. The industries that opened the doors sooner can take credit for spurring that change.


Copyright 2011 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the November 2011 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.