Jody Lohr, President, Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta
Jody Lohr, vice president of operations at Excel & Y, Lundgren & Young Insurance, applauds the industry for the progress it has made towards having more women in leadership positions.
“Our industry has a strong voice in supporting diversity and inclusion policies,” Lohr says. “I’m a female vice president for a brokerage led by a woman (Robyn Young, president & CEO). I’m president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta (IBAA) and Robyn is president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada and past president of IBAA.”
Yet there’s a lot more work to be done to make it easier for women to become leaders in P&C, adds Lohr.
“If we as an industry continue to embrace this change we’ll get to a point where it’s no longer even considered a change – it will just be the norm. This industry has a lot of men who support and drive this change. It’s a change that begins at home – we need to build strong women and respective men.”
It’s a sentiment she herself was raised to believe, says Lohr, who first started out in the industry as a receptionist at Prairie Villa Insurance, a brokerage based in Grande Prairie, AB.
“Back then, I had no idea what I was doing or what an insurance brokerage was,” she recalls. “But I realized eventhough I’d found a career by fluke, I’d give it my all.”
She worked her way into a personal lines broker role, then into commercial lines, found herself managing the office and then becoming general manager as the brokerage acquired more locations.
After 10 years with Prairie Villa, Lohr moved to Calgary, AB to seek a new beginning, she explains. She has been with Excel & Y, Lundgren & Young Insurance for six years.
“While progressing in my career I started volunteering with the IBAA, first as a member on our local council and quickly became an IBAA board member as Chair of the local IBAA Peace River chapter.”
Lohr also joined the Professional Young Insurance Brokers of Alberta executive and was its president for two consecutive years. She is also the first person to hold two years as IBAA president – this during the pandemic.
While throughout her career she has seen the industry made great strides forward, Lohr says women in P&C still face many obstacles.
“Work/life balance is a big one,” Lohr says. “There’s still the fear around maternity leave — the associated costs to a company, or the time off work. This needs to be completely taken off the table of consideration. Gender roles have changed: more fathers stay home or take paternity leave, women and families have more options for support. A women’s ability to have children does not limit her ability to lead.”
In her personal experience, Lohr says one of her biggest struggles has been having her voice heard and opinions valued. “Unfortunately, there’s still a learning curve on either women speaking up, because society has taught us that we are supposed to be quiet, or if we do speak up, we are not always heard.”
The biggest challenge in terms of leadership roles is consideration for everyone based on talent and skill, Lohr adds. “Gender, race, age and now also location shouldn’t matter. Whomever is the best candidate based on merit, experience and skill should get the job.”