Canadian Underwriter

Voices of P&C Women: Introduction

March 8, 2021   by David Gambrill

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Women are making inroads into the senior executive leadership of the property and casualty insurance industry, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Recent industry demographic research conducted by the Insurance Institute of Canada shows that although women made up 62.4% of the Canadian P&C workforce in 2017, they only had a 35% share in the industry’s senior management positions.

Mind you, that’s a large step up from the 28% share of senior executive roles that women held back in 2007. And it’s also better relative to other industries, as the Insurance Institute points out in its 2018 Demographics of the P&C Insurance Industry in Canada.

“Given the high representation of women in the entire P&C insurance workforce, there is still room for improvement, but it is well above the average for the entire workforce (28%) and the professional services industry (22%),” the report states. “It is even higher than for the broader financial services sector (30%).”

Why is having more gender diversity in the executive ranks important?

A number of research studies over the years have shown that more women executives correlate with a better company performance.

To cite just one example, a 2004 study by the non-profit organization Catalyst, sponsored by BMO Financial Group, surveyed 353 Financial 500 companies. It found that the companies with the highest representation of women on their top management teams reported a 35% better return on equity (ROE) — and a 34% better total return to shareholders — than companies with the lowest women’s representation. Other research findings through the years have found a similar pattern.

The benefits of encouraging women to aspire to leadership roles are many, as Natalie Higgins, senior VP of Atlantic Canada at Intact Insurance, put it recently in an interview with Canadian Underwriter.

“When we look across the organization, as we reach gender equality, we see such tremendous benefits with respect to employee engagement, our operations, our performance, as well as the customer experience,” Higgins said. “Customers want to deal with diverse, inclusive environments that reflect their realities.”

It’s worth noting that women are increasingly represented in the P&C industry’s management positions as a whole. When you add the industry’s front-line managers and middle managers into the mix, women make up 52% of all the industry’s management positions, an improvement over the 47% share they held they held in 2007.

But there is still work to be done, as the Insurance Institute’s demographics study notes, particularly in getting more women into the industry’s senior executive roles. And so, in celebration of International Women’s Day, Canadian Underwriter sought out 20+ women in key leadership roles to ask what the P&C industry can do to make it easier for women to become senior executives.

Specifically, we asked:

  • How did you become a leader in the P&C industry?
  • What are the barriers to women becoming senior executives in the industry?
  • What can the P&C industry do to make it easier for women to become executives?

Over the course of the next week, you will be reading what the women we interviewed had to say about these and other questions.

It is our hope that in reading these pieces, the industry will be inspired to take action that would make the path to senior executive leadership much easier for women who would choose to take that road.


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5 Comments » for Voices of P&C Women: Introduction
  1. Eric says:

    Western ideology continues to encourage the women to push for and pursue a career driven life even in the face of catastrophic fertility collapse. A few months back, this publication published an article extolling the virtue of 4 career-centric women in the insurance industry who had a combined 5 children between them, a fertility rate of 1.25. Far below the species survival level of 2.1. This is way of thinking, after devaluing women who courageously have the necessary 3+ children, has no possibility of achieving a path to a sustainable long term future for self, descendants, society, nor planet. I urge everyone to take a long look at the path you are setting for your daughters when encouraging them to pursue a course that leads to certain destruction. Contemporary western thinking driven by its faulty moral system is on a very clear decline. Get off the sinking ship before it takes your family with you. Reset your morality to perfection and accept nothing less. You have been warned. Sincerely, I hope your family makes it out of the next generation. Father 1 daughter, 2 children, hopefully, going on 3.

    • Mike says:

      I have many things that I want to say in response to your post but honestly what’s the point. I just hope you get the help that you require.

      • Eric says:

        Thanks friend. In fact, I actually have been seeking help. A complete abandonment of the suicidal ideology of contemporary western society and a devotion and obedience to God. The flaws of society are completely exposed to me now. It’s working wonders. In fact, I have spoken to many and a good number are in the process of making the same choice as well. Having said that, many are disagreeing, like you. The beauty of an exchange of ideas and disagreement. Something to keep in mind though. God make it binary and mutually exclusive. There are only 2 answers, one is necessarily wrong. Those who are looking at the evidence clearly see which side is on a destructive path. Again, sincerely, best wishes to you. I hope your family makes it out of this generation and not like the circle of women I see around me who have been lied to. I can count in my immediate circle and family and my wife’s immediate circle and family and there are already 18 women past 35 with no children. A pattern repeating itself in the western world. A generation of people who’s forgotten that life only has 2 requirements. Survival and procreation. Everything else is gravy. Hey it was all worth it right? I had a great insurance career to show for it. I feel sick just saying it.

      • Eric says:

        One more thing. Most importantly I wish hope are blessed 3+ children. None of this 0, 1, 2 children nonsense.

  2. kip van kempen fcip says:

    I am so pleased to see women progressing to lofty heights within the company and broker ranks — i can recall working for an insurer in the 70’s –that would not allow women to progress beyond “assistant underwriter ” as only males could be underwriters — As a young underwriter at time it was so wrong as many of the females were far “brighter” than many of the male underwriters they were to assist — many of today’s insurance workers think this was ancient history — thankfully the most qualified regardless of gender get the positions in most instances

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