Canadian Underwriter

Voices of P&C women

March 7, 2022   by David Gambrill

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Happy International Women’s Day, 2022.

To commemorate the occasion, Canadian Underwriter has reached out to 20 women leaders in the P&C industry. We talked to them about how they got into the industry and what obstacles women may face while trying to follow in their footsteps. We also asked for their views on how the P&C industry can make things easier for women striving for leadership roles. Here are their voices.

We hope this one-week newsletter series will inspire others in the P&C industry to help promote the central role of women in leading the industry forward.

Women dominate the P&C industry workforce.

Just over 62% of the P&C workplace is made up of women, according to a 2018 P&C demographic study undertaken by the Insurance Institute of Canada. That was up from about 60% in a similar Institute industry demographic study undertaken in 2007.

In fact, as of three years ago, women made up a greater share of the P&C industry than in any other industry in Canada, save for the health care (83%) and education (67%) industries.

And so, the good news story is the P&C industry can take pride in having a solid representation of women overall.

“Broadly speaking, women have a high degree of representation in the industry’s workforce,” the Insurance Institute’s 2018 industry demographics report reads. “This is true across regions, organization types and sizes, and for most types of occupations. Even in the occupations where women are underrepresented, the industry still considerably outperforms the broader Canadian workforce.”

However, senior executive management is one area of the P&C industry in which women are underrepresented.

In contrast, women are well-represented in front-line management and even middle management positions in the P&C industry.

“Women have the highest degree of representation in front-line management roles, where they account for 59%,” the Institute reports. “This share has been essentially unchanged over the past decade, but it is close to the average for all workers in the P&C sector. What is more, the share is well above the average we see in the entire workforce (33%) and the professional services industry (39%).”

And women make up a 49% share of middle management in the industry – up from 44% a decade ago. That’s well above the average for women in middle management in the Canadian workforce as a whole (39%) and the professional services industries (38%). But in the broader financial services sector, it’s a tick below the average of 53%.

And then there are the senior women executives in the P&C insurance sector. Here, the glass is either half-full or half-empty, depending on your point of view.

On the plus side, women’s share of senior management positions in the P&C insurance industry has shown the most improvement, rising from 28% to 35% over the past decade. That’s well above the average for Canada’s entire workforce (28%) and the professional services industry (22%). It is even higher, as the Institute points out, than for the broader financial services sector (30%).

But, given the number of women in front-line and middle management roles in the P&C industry, the proportion of women in the senior executive ranks seems low. As the Institute notes, there is “room for improvement” in this area.

By listening to women leaders, the industry can identify some ways to make these improvements. We hope these interviews will make a step toward a broader industry discussion about supporting our women leaders, and those who aspire to leadership roles.