March 9, 2021 by Jason Contant
Heather Masterson, president and CEO of Travelers Canada
Although women make up more than six in 10 workers in Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry, representation falls as career levels rise, statistics from the Insurance Institute of Canada show.
Women make up an above-average share of the P&C industry’s workforce — about 62%, Heather Masterson, president and CEO of Travelers Canada, told Canadian Underwriter. While the proportion of women in the industry is positive, the negative is that statistics also show representation falls as women progress up the career ladder.
“Representation of women falls as career levels rise — from 59% of frontline leaders to 49% of middle managers and 35% of senior leaders,” said Masterson, who is past president of the Insurance Institute of Ontario’s Governing Council. “And it drops again at the C-suite. This indicates that there is room for improvement. While women don’t necessarily face as many barriers entering the workforce as they have in the past, as an industry, we can do more when it comes to advancement.”
What can the industry do to overcome any potential barriers for women in Canada’s P&C insurance industry?
“We need to continue working hard to live up to the highest standards of fairness and equity in the workplace,” Masterson said.
For Travelers, the focus has been on raising awareness of insurance as a career for women, training women already in the industry, and supporting networking and mentoring for women in insurance. The insurer has established programs such as the Women & Allies Diversity Network, SHE Travels (a women’s leadership forum focused on advancing women in the workplace), and SHE Rises (a professional development business group for employees).
Speaking about her own personal journey into the ranks of senior executive leadership, Masterson said her introduction to the industry started as child in St. John’s, Nfld., listening to her father talk about the brokerage he was working hard to build. During university, Masterson worked in the family business doing odd jobs such as shredding files.
She then took a position with the Wellington Insurance Company doing home inspections. “It was a great introduction to the concept of risk management,” Masterson recalls.
After graduating from university, Masterson moved to Toronto to build her insurance experience as an underwriting trainee for a large carrier. “It provided a terrific foundation and enabled me to obtain my first professional designation.”
Masterson joined Travelers Canada in September 2015 as chief operating officer. She was appointed president and CEO in November 2016.