Canadian Underwriter

Heena Patel, RSA Canada

March 12, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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Heena Patel, Senior Vice President, Chief Auditor, RSA Canada

Advertising to more potential job candidates and raising awareness among managers about unconscious bias are among the measures the property and casualty insurance industry can take to help women advance into the C suite, says Heena Patel, senior vice president and chief auditor at RSA Canada.

“As an industry, we should be doubling down on progressing in diversity and inclusion,” Patel told Canadian Underwriter. “From an industry perspective, the numbers are not necessarily showing that there is a significant representation [of women at] the more senior levels.”

One thing the industry could do is work on unconscious bias. RSA Canada is doing this through a formal e-learning training program, Patel told Canadian Underwriter. 

The e-learning course for RSA Canada employees includes a self-assessment. It takes the person through different scenarios so they can understand where bias may come up, reported Patel. “The important part is the self-assessment, where we might understand personally where biases might be, and working towards thinking about that in our day-to-day job.”

RSA Canada is also trying to have more diverse candidate pools by using different job boards dedicated to different diverse groups.

Patel is a chartered accountant of South Asian descent born and raised in Britain. She held a variety of roles with Aviva, Deloitte, Andersen, and RSA before moving to Canada in January 2019 to take up her current role with RSA Canada.

“Being a different skin colour, I grew up feeling a bit different, a bit outside,” Patel said of her early years in Britain. “I also found that in terms of the Indian community, it was not really common for a woman to be an executive or to really be a senior leader in industry.”

For women to feel included, Patel said, and “feel that they are able to bring their voice to the table, is something very important to us [at RSA Canada].”

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