March 8, 2023 by Gloria Cilliers
Jessica Mou, Director, Commercial P&C Lines, Gore Mutual
“Despite our industry making tremendous progress, there are still gender biases and stereotypes that I often face, from men and women,” says Jessica Mou, director of commercial lines at Gore Mutual. “I find a lot of them are subconscious, which makes it challenging to confront.”
Mou started in the P&C industry in 2002 in a personal lines underwriting trainee program. Today in her director role, she oversees Gore Mutual’s national commercial P&C team, as well as its national programs and fleet teams.
“As I’ve worked my way through various levels of leadership, I’ve always struggled with the guilt of time spent away from my kids, especially now as a single parent,” Mou reflects. “It’s more of a self-imposed guilt, but I also feel that I could be missing opportunities if I don’t attend every work event, so it’s a constant internal conflict for me. I’m doing a lot of work on my mindset and having open conversations with my kids about our goals as a family so that we all feel that what I do at work is to help our family reach our goals together.”
Another big obstacle facing women is equal representation, Mou says. “I’m seeing more and more women in leadership positions in the industry, but it’s still disproportionate and there is still work to be done when it comes to diversity,” she says. “I feel very fortunate to work for an organization that I think is ahead of the industry on this issue.”
Mou believes it is important to continue to create networks and mentorship programs for women in the industry. “There’s a need for spaces for women to build support systems and peer groups with other like-minded individuals,” she explains. “This will also help to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion within the industry, by increasing visibility of a broad range of women leaders that represent various groups.”
Workplace flexibility and modified work days “have been a game-changer for me,” Mou reports. “This flexibility allows those with family responsibilities to maintain a healthy balance and not feel like we must choose between work and family.”
Mou hopes the industry will adopt flexible workplaces widely, enabling more women to balance work and life, and also to create the opportunity for more women to advance into leadership positions.